Follow Us on Twitter

Scott Matthews - Passing Stranger

Scott Matthews, Passing Stranger

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SCOTT Matthews may hail from Wolverhampton but his reach looks set to become global. The artist has already impressed the likes of Zane Lowe, Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley with his debut single Elusive while the diversity of the songs on his album Passing Stranger have drawn comparisons with everyone from Ry Cooder, Elliott Smith and John Martyn to Eddie Vedder and Nick Cave.

In what has proved a busy year for the singer-songwriter, he has also supported Foo Fighters in their pre-Hyde Park warm-up shows and put the finishing touches to his debut album.

The result offers an impressive mix of blues and folk that’s both rousing and tender in equal measure; one that highlights Matthews as both a vocally commanding artist in his own right and a strong musician.

On several occasions, the guitars really stand out – a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that they’re almost always played by Matthews himself (be they acoustic, electric or bass). He also finds time to take on percussion duties, play the harmonica and raise a pint!

Vocally, meanwhile, his husky style is evocative of some of the very best singers of the moment, flitting between the grit of Pearl Jam’s Vedder, to the tender introspection of Elliott Smith or Jose Gonzalez.

At its most laidback, Matthews’ vocals provide a calming, almost reassuring presence to the beautifully-constructed guitar riffs of acoustic ballads such as Eyes Wider Than Before and Earth To Calm. The latter track is particularly memorable, achingly poignant and perfect just to drift away quietly with.

In grittier, stronger form, however, Matthews’ voice provides a suitably bluesy accompaniment to the gutsy slide and electric guitars of songs like Blue In The Face Again and the Pearl Jam-esque The Fool’s Folling Himself – both of which also recall the brilliance of Ry Cooder, as well as the emerging sound of the Kiefer Sutherland-backed artist, Rocco DeLuca.

The one-minute long Blue In The Face Again, combines some gutsy harmonica with an all-too-brief foot-stomping beat and excellent slide guitar work. But it quickly gives way into the similarly gutsy Sweet Scented Figure, when Matthews warps his vocals slightly to play up the blues effect. Once again, the guitar work is exemplary.

Further highlights include the upbeat blues-folk of title track Passing Stranger, which also contains some nice wurlitzer from Jon Cotton, and the feel-good brilliance of Dream Song, an early track that washes over you in supremely confident fashion to get things rolling in style.

Passing Stranger is destined to become one of the year’s most significant breakthrough albums – so don’t expect Scott Matthews to be a stranger for that much longer.

Track listing:

  1. Little Man Tabla Jam
  2. Dream Song
  3. Fool’s Fooling Himself
  4. Eyes Wider Than Before
  5. Blue In The Face Again
  6. Sweet Scented Figure
  7. Passing Stranger
  8. Prayers
  9. Musical Interval
  10. Still Fooling
  11. City Headache
  12. Nylon Instrumental
  13. Elusive
  14. Earth To Calm
  15. White Feathered Medicine
  16. Little Man Tabla Jam (2)
  17. Bruno Finale