“For some it seems a mistake, for me it's a way of life.”
It’s a lyric from Aussie-born New Yorker, Scott Matthew’s new album, which also tells the story of Matthews’ own journey. In a nutshell, it’s a life of tragically beautiful music, brimming with longing for a sanctuary; a place to wait for a love that will surely come some day.
For this bearded angel - whom Rolling Stone mag aptly likens to Antony Hegarty and androgynous-era Bowie - writing and recording third solo album, Gallantry’s Favorite Son, was the time “I came to terms with myself”. The result is a more confident, self-assured Matthew tackling issues like bigotry, intolerance and afterlives. With confidence comes joy too, so in first single “The Wonder Of Falling In Love” we find Matthew dancing in a more playful pop playground reminiscent of 2009’s “Thistle.” Together with newie “Felicty,” Matthew weaves connectors between Scott Walker and Devendra Banhart; Council-era Paul Weller and Burt Bacharach’s lush string pop.
But that doesn’t mean the goose bumps have diminished. Matthew’s emotive quiver still “cuts like lovingly administered razors” [Sydney Morning Herald]. In haunting new songs like “Sinking,” “Buried Alive” and “Black Bird,” the man whose worldwide mustering of hearts in queer-comedy-drama Shortbus [director John Cameron Mitchell’s follow-up to Hedwig & The Angry Inch] continues stealing breath. Administering to the listener’s innermost core, he offers an elixir of dark cabaret, restorative folk and gently caressing ballads.
It’s little wonder Rhythms Mag called Matthew’s last album “Mesmerizing,” while “Extremely Beautiful,” “Heartbreaking,” “Brilliant, Stunning, Haunting,” “Hypnotizing… Gorgeous... Heart-melting... Captivating” are just some descriptors proffered in other reviews.
By now it’s clear Matthew’s emotional investment in songs is huge: Matthew and the listener – it’s a heart to heart exchange. This may be more apparent now, than his earlier outings as a Brizzy punk protégé, or in first band Elva Snow with ex-Morrissey man Spencer Cobrin, but as we said at the start, it’s a lifetime’s work, a journey of commitment. “When friendship becomes family, it helps me with the mystery” sings Matthew. His music is like a diary whose secrets are shared with an intimate circle of friends. Welcome to the circle.