• Scott Matthews
  • Truck Store, OX4
  • Record Store Day, April 27

Up close Scott Matthews comes across as a personable, thoughtful an all-around good guy with a very dry and entertaining sense of humour. Once acclaimed as the most exciting singer to come from the Midlands since Robert Plant, he played an intimate afternoon in-store gig on a Sunday afternoon ahead of this Tuesday’s SJE Oxford date, promoting his sixth album.

It is pleasing to see how seriously he’s taking this little gig, turning up on time with three guitars, his own sound man, and taking great care checking the sound. He says: “I am not very used to afternoon gigs”, and then in an understated way puts on quite a performance treating us to a full set of 10 songs.

He’s an impressively skilled finger picking guitarist switching easily between style, at moments sounding similar to folk legends Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, and adding some Dylan-style harmonica. But what is most striking is his very appealing voice and how well he uses it. Sometimes it’s sweetly intimate, sometimes soulful, sometimes a soaring falsetto, with some songs being delivered in an ethereal style and some with elided words reminiscent of John Martyn. Also, he has great fun spontaneously bursting into some some impromptu jazz ‘mouth music’. I think he was a saxophone. It was so good he should keep it in the set.

He writes about more than love and the pain of relationships, doing songs about city life, shyness, getting through depression, gaining insight and impending fatherhood (Mathews has just become a father) – and this song, The Great Untold is the title track of the new album.

He knows less can be more, accompanying the wonderfully crafted Joni Mitchell style lyrics of Song to a Wallflower with a simple guitar line that sets it perfectly. It’s the highpoint of the afternoon, though City Headache runs it a close second, with Matthews’s guitar work again flawlessly complementing his somewhat disturbing lyrics.

A nice guy and a class act. His intimate and ethereal style and the venue for Tuesday’s Oxford gig, SJE Arts, should be a great match, and anyone going to see him there should be in for a treat.


  • Tickets for Tuesday’s SJE show from sje-oxford.org