Perhaps my favourite part of discussing music, unlike competitive friendly environments like sport or business, is that the conversations don’t always need to have a winner. What we chose this week as the answer to a question like ‘who’s your favourite band’, or ‘what’s your favourite single’, may be different to the answer we give next week. More importantly, there’s an acceptance with music lovers that these answers can change; there never is, nor should there be, a definitive answer to music’s most important questions.
Perhaps my favourite concert of the year so far, the subjective bit first, was the one which managed to bridge the gap most successfully between rock and gospel; heart-break and contentment; humour and tragedy. Some gap to bridge then…
Scott Matthews, almost six albums, and an Ivor Novello, into his 17-year musical career, has an ability to make the struggles and the worries disappear. His music reminds you that the actions and behaviours of the vast majority of people are built from positive intentions.
Stripped right back tonight, Matthews provides meditative contemplations on the best and the worst of life with his blend of acoustic guitar, voice, and occasional harmonica. Character studying tracks examine the dark and light sides of the human condition, one moment heroic, the next moment repellent; yet always changing and always conflicting.
2015’s classic ‘Mona’ sets an early benchmark, all high pitched Jeff Buckley vocals, Springsteen melodies and acoustic Bernard Butler styled precise guitar work. Central to his catalogue, Mona is both heart-breaking and heart-warming.
New single ‘Cinnamon’ is tonight’s highlight, reminding us that our desire to run from our problems, however enticing, never ends well.
When it comes to beautifully soundtracking every emotion of humanity, including our elusiveness, tonight proves that Matthews is one of the very best out there. Ask me again next week and I may give you a different answer.