Showing posts with label Wendy Matthews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wendy Matthews. Show all posts

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Welcome Return

Last week in Australia celebrated vocalist Wendy Matthews released The Welcome Fire, her first album of original material since 2001's sublime Beautiful View.

Though some are billing the new album as a "comeback," the truth is Wendy has never really been away. In the past twelve years she's released two exceptional albums of covers – Café Naturale (2004) and She (2008); recorded a duet with Australian country music star Adam Harvey; and steadily toured and performed across Australia, most recently with fellow ARIA Award-winning singer Margaret Urlich.

Still, The Welcome Fire and the buzz around its release has returned Wendy to a level of both visibility and acclaim not seen for quite some time. And that's definitely a good thing. As regular Wild Reed readers would know, I greatly appreciate and enjoy Wendy's music. Her recordings of "Standing Strong" and "Like the Sun" speak to me deeply and have become personal anthems for me. Yet more than this, Wendy Matthews is, without doubt, one of the great singers of our time. Plus she's just such a beautiful soul.

In announcing the release of The Welcome Fire, a media release from Sydney's Brass Monkey music venue noted the following.

Beautifully evocative and superbly crafted, The Welcome Fire is an album filled with personal, poignant lyrics and reflective melodies. The album is undoubtedly contemporary in sound, yet the voice is unmistakably that of Wendy Matthews. The Welcome Fire not only re-establishes Wendy as one of Australia’s most influential and iconic voices and artists but also marks a new chapter in her career.

There are very few artists in Australia who can come close to Wendy Matthews and her stunning credentials; seven Arias, a massive 19 hit singles, and seven platinum-plus selling albums. Her career-defining album Lily sold over 500,000 copies and over 300,000 singles of her now signature song "The Day You Went Away" when released in the mid 1990s.

On her YouTube channel, Wendy has posted a series of "webisodes" in which she discusses each of The Welcome Fire's ten tracks. I particularly enjoy what she has to say about the songs "Amelia," Little Boy," and "It's Alright."

The opening track is the beautiful "Follow You Down," about which Wendy says:

[It's about] how we all have these things that we don't want to look at about ourselves. [It's also about] caring enough about someone to say, 'Look, if you want to turn around and look at the demons then I'll stand with you.'

I can't wait to hear the album in its entirety! You know, I called my parents in Australia and told them that I'd send them a cheque so that they could buy the album and send it to me. I know I could download it from i-tunes, but I like having the whole package – CD artwork, liner notes, an actual disc I can take places. Anyway, Mum said that there was no need for me to send money as they'd already decided to get the album for me as an early birthday present! How sweet is that? They actually once saw Wendy in concert. It was when she played Port Macquarie about five years ago. She'll be performing again soon in the Port Macquarie area, and Mum mentioned they might go see her again. Of course, I strongly encouraged them to do so! I definitely hope one day to see her in concert.

Anyway, I conclude this post by sharing, with added images and links, two recent articles about Wendy Matthews. First up is Australian music critic David P. Weber's review of The Welcome Fire.

With The Welcome Fire, Wendy Matthews has made an album which provides listening pleasure from beginning to end, where every song is a winner.

In terms of production, and approach, it’s in the vein of Emmylou HarrisWrecking Ball, if not as swampy. The album even starts off a bit country, with ‘Follow You Down’. The vibe is soon abandoned to make way for a more diverse palette over the course of the LP.

The vocal skills which Matthews deployed on the tearjerker monster ‘The Day You Went Away’ are brought to the fore on the piano-driven ‘Amelia’. Matthews’ performance on ‘Amelia’ could just be the best thing she’s ever done (the song bears no relationship to the one on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira). An understated arrangement allows the track to build to a stirring, spine-tingling climax. While Matthews is in no need of that travesty named Auto-Tune, her vocals are obviously weathered and tougher than what Australia lapped up with Lily all those years ago.

Feel Like Taking Your Man’ follows, with Matthews in the role of a woman doing precisely what the title alludes to. About this song, she’s said “The last thing women need to do is start turning on each other”, perhaps hopeful they don’t take the wrong message.

There’s a lovely refrain on ‘It Won’t Matter,’ and the bouncy Josh Pyke co-write ‘Everything I’ve Done Wrong’ is a hit waiting to happen. The piano is front and centre again on ‘Who I Am,’ an autobiographical song featuring images that are “tattooed” on her memory banks. The album closes with the hopeful and uplifting ‘It’s Alright,’ which is really a jam session played out.

The Welcome Fire should rejuvenate Matthews’ career. Readers and listeners could be forgiven putting her in the ‘where are they now’ file. She has released charting albums and performed live over the past ten years—it’s just that her visibility is often compared with the massively successful splash she made in the 1990s. In a period which has seen clever career relaunches for the likes of Russell Morris and Renée Geyer, the time seems ripe for Wendy Matthews.

Next, and finally, is Graeme Watson's Out in Perth's story on Wendy and her new album. In this article/interview Wendy explains the meaning of the album's cover image, a burning heart painted on her back. Of course, for Catholics reading this, this image needs no explanation. It's the Sacred Heart, the mystical symbol of love which, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, "stands not only for the love of Jesus for us, but also for the unifying meaning and force of that love as it unites and gives greater meaning to all our best hopes, aspirations and efforts."

Singer Wendy Matthews is back with a new album The Welcome Fire. It’s a collection of adult contemporary songs that are filled with influences including gospel, country and rock. It’s possibly the best work of the acclaimed singer’s career.

Matthew’s life story is compelling. The singer grew up in Canada but left home at 16 to travel the world busking. In the late 1970s she was in Los Angeles gaining work as a backup singer. There she met lots of Australian musicians, including Glenn Shorrock, the lead singer of The Little River Band, who in 1983 persuaded her to come to Australia on a tour. Matthews decided to stay and quickly became an in demand singer working with bands like The Models and The Rockmelons.

Matthews joined the band Absent Friends, a band made up of musicians from many other bands, including members of The Models and INXS. She sang lead vocals on their cover of the Eddie Floyd song ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Nobody But You.’ The song is one of many featuring Matthews that became a staple of Australian radio airplay.

Through the 1990s Matthews released a series of bestselling albums, scoring hits with ‘The Day You Went Away,’ ‘Let’s Kiss Like Angels Do,’ ‘A Woman’s Gotta Have It’ and many other tunes. As the new millennium dawned Matthews made a major life change, giving up city living for a ten hectare property on the New South Wales north coast. Stories of her building a traditional tipi and a mud brick house have become part of her narrative.

As we chat on the phone I note that she makes country living seem very appealing, and ask if she misses the city. Matthews breaks out in a loud laugh, and in her still clearly Canadian accent says,

“God, yes! No, I absolutely adore my trips into town and I stay with friends in Double Bay in this just incredible house, which I really enjoy. It’s just a complete dichotomy, that one.

“The reality is that it’s damn hard. I had all these incredible romantic notions, but, good Lord, it's pretty sort of ‘life in the raw’ to be honest.”

On her new album Matthews has written songs with a range of top songwriters including Megan Washington and her producer John Castle, Brisbane based singer songwriter Mark Sholtez, Gina Jeffreys' producer and husband Rod McCormack, US singer-songwriter Kim Richey, and Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke. Matthews puts the credit for these interesting combinations squarely at the feet of her publisher.

“I have the luxury this time of having met a couple of people, and having a wonderfully proactive publisher which is pretty rare in this country,” said Matthews, “Maree Hamblion would just ring up and say, ‘Look, I’m thinking maybe you and so-and-so would get along well. I’ll set up a day.’ So I would get on a plane or in a car in my own time and meet up with this or that person. She was hugely instrumental in that.”

The album marks the first time Matthews has been involved in writing every song on her record. She acknowledges her growing confidence as a songwriter and independent artist.

“The last album I put out was on my own little label and that was more just an exercise in trying to feel great about owning every aspect of what I do and learning the whole other side of it, which I’m not naturally interested in.”

“I just really wanted to get a general overview on the whole thing. Forming my own little label and putting out a record was a huge exercise for me. But it was just a long time coming. I’ve got journals and journals of little bits and pieces, poems and rhythms and melodies. It was a long time coming just putting it all together.”

Matthews is quick to agree that she doesn’t have a great deal of ambition, preferring to take time to allow things to naturally develop.

“Oh, God, no. No, I’m not ambitious in the traditional sense, not by any stretch. I think I’m just a little too existential for that kind of thing. I find it kind of hilarious. It’s just not for me. I’ve never been a fighter to get to the front, to be the artist. As corny as it sounds, I’ve just always really enjoyed singing, I don’t care whether it’s up the back or in the front, all that crap is just an illusion. The only thing I have found, which is wonderful, is that the closer you are to the front; somehow you have a little more power to be able to do what you’d like to do.”

The finished album is a powerful piece of work. An album that you can easily play many times in a row without wanting to skip through a single track. Each individual song is a solo work of art. Discussing the album's powerful cover image, a burning heart painted on the singer’s back, Matthews shares the inspiration for the design.

“I had this dream of these Milagros, which are folk charms from Mexico, and they’re very kitsch. You tag them on to crosses, mainly just old wooden crosses, and they're blessings. You can bless your ears, your dog, your donkey, your house, and your car. But the big mother load of them all, the big boss of the all, is the flaming heart.

“I was racking my brains for the cover thinking, 'Well, big bonfire . . . fire, hmm.' Then I thought, 'No hold on, these Milagros, which I’ve got all over my house, are exactly what I want to say in a very subtle way and it's a welcome return to inspiration and whatever fire might mean to anybody.' So I thought, ‘I’m going to put a huge whopping silver Milagros on my back!’”

Related Off-site Link:
Matthews Pushes Herself on Latest Album – Caris Bizzaca (Australian Associated Press via 7 News, August 27, 2013).

For more of Wendy Matthews at The Wild Reed, see:
Wendy Matthews
Beautiful View
Nobody But You
Standing Strong
Like the Sun

Friday, March 22, 2013

Like the Sun

Wouldn't you like to be like the sun,
shining your warm light
down on everyone?
Wouldn't you like to feel
like the sun,
It's not just in some of us
but in everyone.
What do you say?

– "Like the Sun"
Wendy Matthews, Bruce Reid,
and Michael Szumowski

Every now and then here at The Wild Reed, Friday evening's are 'music night.' And, yes, tonight is one of those evenings!

Anyone who visits here on a regular basis will probably know that I greatly admire and enjoy the musical talents of Wendy Matthews. And it's not just her music I appreciate, but Wendy as a person. From everything I've heard and read, she's a very wise, compassionate, and beautiful soul. For instance, she does a lot of advocating for animal rights, including campaigning against 'puppy mills' and similar cruel and exploitative practices.

As well as being a gifted vocalist, Wendy is also a talented songwriter. The song I share this evening was co-written by Wendy, Bruce Reid, and Michael Szumowski. It's from her 2001 album Beautiful View.

I particularly like and resonate with this song as I believe it speaks powerfully of a basic spiritual truth: that the sacred, often described in metaphors of light, dwells deep within each and every one of us! Our great calling is to seek out this presence and embody it through our loving actions of body, speech and mind. Such actions have the power to transform us and the world. The great challenge in responding to this call is to reject those voices, both within and without, that tell us we're not worthy of such wondrous union; that we are incapable of making a difference, either in our own life or in the world. "What do you say?", indeed!

Wendy Matthew's "Like the Sun" is a rare gift: an enjoyable, catchy pop song that invites us to think about and respond to some profoundly human (and thus spiritual) concerns and questions.

"Like the Sun" was the third (and final) track released as a single from Beautiful View. Following is the video that was made to accompany it. Enjoy!

As a matter of fact I don't want to feel this way.
At the end of the day I just can't stop looking back.
In my wildest heart I was afraid of the light, not the dark.
In the darkness I could hide.
I closed my heart, I closed my mind
to the call of freedom close behind,
the voice inside that says . . .

Wouldn't you like to be like the sun,
shining your warm light down on everyone?
Wouldn't you like to feel like the sun,
shining your golden light down on everyone?
What do you say?

And in the end what doesn't kill you makes you strong.
When it goes wrong, you just might crack if you can't bend.
In my wildest heart I was afraid of the light not the dark.
In the darkness I could hide.
I closed my heart, I closed my mind
to the call of freedom close behind,
the voice inside that says . . .

Wouldn't you like to be like the sun,
shining your warm light down on everyone?
Wouldn't you like to feel like the sun,
shining your golden light down on everyone?
What do you say?

I see with more than just my eyes.
I hear with more than just my ears.
I feel with more than just my hands.

Wouldn't you like to be like sun,
shining your warm light down on everyone?
Wouldn't you like to feel like the sun?
It's not just in some of us but in everyone.
What do you say?
What do you say?

For more of Wendy Matthews at The Wild Reed, see:
Wendy Matthews
Beautiful View
Nobody But You
Standing Strong

Recommended Off-site Links:
Wendy Matthews' Official Website
Path of a Free Spirit – Steve Dow (Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2010).
The AU Interview: Wendy Matthews – Sosefina Fuamoli (The AU Review, January 31, 2013).
Wendy Matthews InterviewUndercover (May 13, 2011).
Wendy Matthews – Leigh Salter (Beat Magazine, December 9, 2010).
Wendy Matthews – Peter Thompson (Talking Heads, May 30, 2005).
The Gospel According to MatthewsCream Magazine (1998).

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Standing Strong

As I did this time last year, I’ll be sharing during the month of June a series of posts marking Gay Pride Month.

To get The Wild Reed’s “Gay Pride 2010” series underway, I share today the music video for “Standing Strong,” a stirring and uplifting Wendy Matthews song from her 1994 album The Witness Tree.

In many ways I hear the lyrics of this song as God’s words to LGBT people. They are words that speak of the power, strength, and liberation that comes from coming out; from engaging, in other words, in that sacred journey by which LGBT people of faith experience God’s loving presence and guidance as they move out from the closet of denial and fear and into a life of integrity and truth.

. . . Oh, I can feel it the air.
The freedom’s on the wind,
It’s whispering in my ear . . .

I’ll pick you up and turn you 'round,
I’ll leave you standing strong on solid ground.
To save you from these, these shifting sands,
to join the earth right here where I stand.

They can keep on telling you what’s wrong and right,
and spell it out in black and white.
But don’t you listen to a word they say.
It doesn’t matter anyway.

I’ll pick you up and turn you 'round,
I’ll leave you standing strong on solid ground.
To save you from these shifting sands,
to join the earth right here where I stand.

Last year’s “Gay Pride 2009” series:
A Mother’s Request to President Obama: Full Equality for My Gay Son
Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Five Years On
It Shouldn’t Matter. Except It Does
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Not Just Another Political Special Interest Group
Can You Hear Me, Yet, My Friend?
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
Worldwide Gay Pride

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Dan Furmasky: Why We Have Pride
Coming Out: An Act of Holiness
Daniel Kowalski: “I Can No Longer Fight Who I Am”
Ian McKellen’s Two Greatest Achievements: Playing Gandalf and Coming Out
Darren Hayes, Coming Out . . . Oh, and Time Travel
A Girl Named Sara: “A Person of the Resurrection”
Matthew Mitcham: Making a Splash
Openly Gay Diver Wins Olympic Gold
Coming Out in Africa and the Middle East
No Matter What

And for my own coming out story, see The Wild Reed series, In the Footsteps of Spring:
Part 1: The Light Within
Part 2: Shards of Summer
Part 3: Intimate Soliloquies
Part 4: Coming Out
Part 5: No Stranger Am I

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nobody But You

Here's another great song by the beautiful and talented Wendy Matthews. (It's actually by the short-lived Australian band Absent Friends, with Wendy on vocals.) Notes Wikipedia:

[The Absent Friends'] single "I Don’t Want To Be With Nobody But You" was a significant commercial success. It was a cover of the Eddie Floyd classic. The cover to the single credited the song to Absent Friends featuring Wendy Matthews. Also guesting on the track was vocalist Peter Blakeley (backing vocals). The song peaked at Number 4 on the Australian charts during July 1990, and later won the ARIA Award for ‘Best Single’ for 1991.

As often is the case when I choose songs to share on The Wild Reed, the lyrics of this one kinda reflect things I'm currently going through in my life. I guess that's to be expected.

Anyway, regardless of its relevance to your life or mine, I think you'll find "I Don't Want to Be With Nobody But You" a great song that's beautifully delivered by Wendy Matthews. Enjoy!

. . . Man, I love you, so put an end to your fantasy,
or you just might, you just might blow it all.
Get yourself together and, baby,
when you do, you're going to see
I'll be true to you.

Coz I don't want to be with nobody but you.
No, no, I don't want to be with no one but you.
I want to be wrapped up in the arms of my loving man.
(Come on and rock me)
Rock me in your arms like I know you can.

"I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You" is available on the following albums: Stepping Stones: The Best of Wendy Matthews (1999) and The Essential Wendy Matthews (2007).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Wendy Matthews
Beautiful View

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beautiful View

What a beautiful view you are,
eyes deep ocean blue.
What a radiant sun you are,
lighting everything I see.

So don't be scared,
the silence is a wall between us.
Can't you see that all I want is you?

For this evening’s “music night” at The Wild Reed, I share a video of acclaimed Australian singer Wendy Matthews performing the song "Beautiful View" at The Basement in Sydney, Australia.

In 2001, this particular song served as the title track of Wendy's seventh studio album. Since then, she's released two other albums, Café Naturale (2004) and She (2008). For her complete discography, click here.

Wendy Matthews has a reputation as an artist par excellence with a sublime, expressive voice that never fails to move those who hear it.

Both acoustically and physically, Wendy Matthews moves with an enviable minimalism. Her music is an unhurried journey of clean melodies, infectious energy and simple grace.

. . . Wendy has an immense talent and capacity to capture and define a diverse range of styles in her music. She takes songs from every genre and makes them her own, from jazz to blues, from rock to gospel, from soul to outright infectious pop and then, of course, there are the beautiful ballads.

"Beautiful View" just happens to be one of those beautiful ballads. Enjoy!

. . . What incredible skies they are,
wrapped 'round us tonight.
You're all the sleeping stars
and I'm the satellites.

Let all those fears
rest in your imagination.
I just want to lie here in our constellation.

What a beautiful view you are.
Don't change.

Let all the dark clouds
rain beneath your mind's horizon.
Can't you see there's nothing but skies of blue
and they're you?
Don't change.

What a beautiful view you are.
Don't change.

. . . Wendy is adept at reaching both frenetic youth and mature audiences alike. If older ears are captured by her soul and unfazed class, a more cynical youth is convinced by her disarming ease of delivery, wooed by a voice of stunning emotive capacity yet void of sentimentality.

This outstanding capability has ensured the strength of her following – not only with the public but also the music industry. To date Wendy has won seven ARIAS – the all time record.

To view Australian country singer Adam Harvey's recent duet with Wendy Matthews on the song "Easy," click here.

For the best introduction to Wendy's music, I recommend either the 1999 compilation album, Stepping Stones: The Best of Wendy Matthews, or the 2007 compilation album, The Essential Wendy Matthews.

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Wendy Matthews

Musical artists previously featured at The Wild Reed:
Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson, Jane Clifton, Enigma, Yvonne Elliman, Lenny Kravitz, Marty Rhone, Don Henley, Propeller Heads and Shirley Bassey, Stephen Gately, Nat King Cole, Enrique Iglesias, Helen Reddy, Australian Crawl, PJ and Duncan, Cass Elliot, The Church, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, Wall of Voodoo, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Pink Floyd, Kate Ceberano, Judith Durham, Wendy Matthews, Buffy Sainte-Marie, 1927, Mavis Staples, Maxwell, Joan Baez, Dave Stewart & Friends, Tee Set, Darren Hayes, Suede, Wet, Wet, Wet, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Cruel Sea, Shirley Bassey, Loretta Lynn & Jack White, Maria Callas, Foo Fighters, Rosanne Cash, Jenny Morris, Scissor Sisters, Kate Bush, Rufus Wainwright, and Dusty Springfield.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wendy Matthews

Tonight’s Wild Reed Music Night highlights acclaimed Australian singer/songwriter Wendy Matthews and the song “Free,” from her 2001 album, Beautiful View.

Free is one cool song -with a positive and proactive message of the need to let go of a lousy relationship so as to move on with life. The music video for the song shows a very classy delivery - both vocally and visually - of this message. It actually looks as if it was filmed at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport - a place I’ve become well familiar with over the years, what with my numerous return visits to Australia.

At any rate, here’s Wendy Matthews and “Free” (with thanks to YoungDot82). Enjoy!

NOTE: If the video below does not play, click here.

. . . Baby, I know
I can’t live another day, sleep another night,
waiting for you to change into something
I wish you could have been.
It’s not what I’m into now.

I’ve done all I can,
I’ve given you every chance
to prove you are my man.
Now there’s nothing left to lose.

I’m free
like the wind,
independent once again.
Yeah I am gone,
I’ve gotta be moving on.

Free, watch me fly
lift your hands and wave bye bye,
cos I’m gone.
Gotta be moving on.

Born in Canada in 1960, Wendy Matthews relocated to Australia in 1983 where she soon began building both a reputation and a career as one of the country’s most popular and well-respected female vocalists.

Career highlights include her 1988 recording (with the group Absent Friends) of “I Don’t Want to Be With Nobody But You”; her 1990 ARIA Award-winning debut album, Émigré, which featured the hit singles “Token Angels” and “Let’s Kiss (Like the Angels Do)”; her 1992 ARIA Award-winning album Lily, which included the hits “The Day You Went Away” and “Friday’s Child”; and her 2004 acoustically recorded covers album, Café Naturale, featuring great renditions of “Early Morning Rain”, “All I Need”, and “Slave (Just for Love)”.

Her latest album is 2008’s She, on which, incidentally, she covers “Fallen Angels,” a song from Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Coincidence and Likely Stories - an artist and album highlighted last Friday night at The Wild Reed.

My parents saw Wendy Matthews in concert last May in Port Macquarie. She actually resides not that far up the coast - where she was living for a time in a tepee!

For the best introduction to her music, I recommend either the 1999 compilation album, Stepping Stones: The Best of Wendy Matthews, or the 2007 compilation album, The Essential Wendy Matthews.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Wendy Matthews’ Official Website
Wendy’s Simple Life - Jill Fraser (Fresh Magazine, January 2005)
Home Sweet Tepee - Deborah Hutton (Australian Woman’s Weekly, October 2005).