[sic] Magazine

Scott Matthew – Gallantry’s Favorite Son

Every now and then you hear an album that reminds you that one of the greatest achievements of an album is that you simply enjoy every minute of listening to it. I’ve had both the opportunity and pleasure to listen to some truly exceptional albums this year, all of which have their own individual merits, but Gallantry’s Favorite Son stands as the most immediately engaging and memorable.

By the third listen I knew just about all the words – and was singing along – to ‘Felicity’, the album’s third track. In honour of Felicity, friendship, birthdays and life in general, it’s part wonder, part resolution and part celebration. It also happens to be one of the most delightful songs I’ve heard in a good while.

In contrast to that, ‘Duet’ follows with a particularly heart-rending promise, and again even at the second listen to the album, I knew the song well enough to know certain moments were coming and steeling myself for the expected emotive response it would inevitably cause.

On paper (or screen, as it were), the words from ‘Duet’, “ I will save you from the demon weeds you’ve sown, little dream… “, may not have quite the same impact, which is testament to one of the greatest forces on the album – the voice. The most succinct way to describe it would be Scott Matthew is The Voice Stripped Bare. It consistently edges on the verge of raw-to-fragile, without ever sounding weak. In doing so, it shows so utterly clearly just about every nuance of emotion contained within the lyrics, and subsequently the spirit of the music. Truly a joy to listen to, whether it’s one of the more upbeat and lively tracks, or something a little quieter and darker.

Musically, Gallantry… falls well within the genre of pop-vocal, in much the same way that Tori Amos or Antony and The Johnsons do – which are not necessarily direct comparisons, but rather more examples of unique (if but more subtle in this case) subversions or adaptations of the genre. There are definitely moments that can however garner comparison to the latter. Others recall the delicacy heard in some of J. Tillman ‘s solo work, while elements of chamber pop and classical add weight and balance to the overall light-heartedness of the album.

But that’s all rather by-the-by to me, I’m rather more focussed on the genuinely wonderful surprise it is to discover artists like Scott Matthew. His music is so obviously pure-spirited that each moment of tenderness, celebration, promise or lament is shared without restraint, and on a level that (I suspect) is personally understood no matter who you are or whether there are things you’ve shared outside the experience of listening to the album.

I just have one, relatively minor, quibble … within the first track are the lines “ I’m a little black bird, I don’t want to learn to fly… ” It’s a little late for that, I’m afraid, because Gallantry’s Favorite Son genuinely soars.

Scott Matthew @ myspace

Scott Matthew webpage