The Social – August 18th
First emerging on the scene in the mid-noughties Scott Matthews was instantly recognised as a formidable songwriting talent; receiving plaudits from prominent publications such as Q magazine who crowned him an incredibly promising home grown star. The beautifully dark Americana which featured throughout his debut album ‘Passing Strangers’ was met with widespread acclaim, and his stand-out single, ‘Elusive’ went on to claim the 2007 Ivor Novello win for best single (beating Arctic Monkeys – ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ is the process).
So where as his fellow nominee’s trajectory has led them to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world (selling over 3.5 million records in the UK alone), Matthews star has never quite been fully realised. This is no sob story though, and the Wolverhampton native has still gone on to experience levels of success that most musicians starting out can only dream of; notably support slots for Foo Fighters and songwriting collaborations with Robert Plant. Perhaps it’s the glacial rate of his output – with only two full albums released to date since his 2006 debut – which meant he hasn’t capitalised on his early momentum; however, with his fourth album Home Part 1 due for release on October 6th through Thirty Tigers, he looks set for a well deserved resurgence.
Crammed into the stifling basement of The Social, Scott Matthews took a devoted audience through their paces; illustrating in little over an hour why he is one of the great lost songwriters of our generation. Opening with new single ‘Virginia’, delicate guitar-work is paired with haunting vocals (though the Jeff Buckley comparisons are thoroughly worn-out, they are also fully justified) which swelled and subsided throughout this introspective track. Other new songs showcased the quality to be expected in this artist’s next chapter, with the finger-picked ballad ‘Mona’ and the album’s stunning lead single ‘Sunlight’; a slightly fuller proposition, reminiscent of Sun Kil Moon’s more upbeat moments.
It wasn’t just in the quality of his music composition and delivery that shows the traces of 8 years of performing. His demeanour throughout the set put the crowd at ease, charming them with moments of sincere gratitude and riotous whit. Clearly putting much thought into his band recruitment too, he was joined on stage by talented and inventive cellist, Danny Keane who rounded out his live show with lush string which were used with subtlety and intelligence.
Ending the set with two of his back-catalogue’s finest moments, the rootsy ‘Passing Stranger’ and the timeless beauty of his marquee hit, ‘Elusive’, he put out a statement of intent that his next chapter would be his finest.