“It’s the first album I’ve written that’s not concerning romantic love. Even though there’s a sense of romance to it, but it’s not connected to my personal romantic love at all. It’s about people and places that aren’t concerning my immediate romantic pain”.
Scott Matthew laughs when he says this last sentence. He is laughing a lot in these days. It`s as if not only a weight has been lifted, but rather something new and beautiful in his life has also begun in his music. The pain may not have gone. But on Ode To Others it seems Scott has changed his point of view from the inside out.
“God, you must have had such a horrible life” most people might have thought of Scott, he says. “With the last album ‘This here Defeat’ I got really tired of showing that. I didn’t want this new album to be about that stuff. So I set about writing songs about different subjects. Odes to people that I love or admire, even fictitious people – and places that are in my heart. And that was really refreshing to me.”
The Public and the Private, the big things and the small things merge together within the lyrics he wrote for Ode To Others: Where I Come From is the Ode to his father Ian, Cease And Desist is dedicated to his deceased uncle Paul and in Not Just Another Year he celebrates his best friend Michael, on the occasion of the anniversary of his relationship – which, cursed life – has meanwhile come to an end.
As he views these people, who mean a lot, sometimes even everything, he also broadens his outlook onto places from the past and the present.
Places like his Australian childhood (Flame Trees is a cover from the Australian band Cold Chisel); New York, where Scott has been living for 20 years now, meanwhile as an American citizen (The Sidewalks Of New York, a historic song originally written by J.W. Blake in the late 19th century) or the medieval, Portuguese village Santarém where he assures himself as a ecstatic wanderer his literal access to the world, „What I love most maybe glory lost / Or the sadness that’s sweet / Or the ones under our feet“.
Scott`s eye on the world is the one of a loving, of an admirer, but sometimes of a mourner too. For example The Wish is a song about the massacre in Orlando (June 12, 2016) when a single perpetrator invaded the Pulse club and shot 49 people dead, most of them members of the LGBT community. A few hours later Scott wrote the lyrics, expressing a sense of total powerlessness: „This is an assault against love / Still no-one helps, they just pray above / And I wish I could help / I wish I could have helped”.
However, paralyzing helplessness in the face of unbearable violence should not be the last word. This is clear with the beginning of the new album and the first Song End Of Days, an ode to the resistance and the resisting that, in this case, is directed against the policies of the current incumbent US President. Scott Matthew uses “we” for those who do not want to submit and accept. „We may be trembling with fear, it won’t hold us back / We ain’t going away / We’re gonna stay till the end of days“ . Love directs and fulfills this attitude.The narrator of this song does not want to encounter hatred with hatred, but with the universal power of love that never fades and lasts until the end of days.
None of his last five solo records is as diverse; as beautiful orchestrated and complex in arrangements as Ode To Others. This is the result of the collaboration with Scott’s live guitarist, co-writer and producer Jürgen Stark. „I didn’t even know whether I liked my songs – before Jürgen came along and gave them all this personality and all this wonderfully intricate layering“.
He’s very proud of his new album Scott Matthew says: „I think it’s one of the best albums we’ve done so far, for a lot of reasons. The idea of minimalism wasn’t very prominent on this album. But it’s not bombastic to me. It’s still got intimacy, but also all this intricate layers. And in the end – all this history.”
One could think of the album Ode To Others as a musical new beginning of Scott Matthew. But that is not quite true. It is rather the result of a change of perspective. From one who looks out into the world of the present and the past and thereby discovers himself in a new way, as a loving, admiring, sometimes even as a contemptuous observer.
A look at the others can also be a look at yourself, as a view back could be also a view ahead.