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Matt Schofield - Anything But Time

Nugene Records

10 tracks/49:59

Some months ago, a good friend of mine was raving about an exciting new guitar player that he had discovered. This friend loaned me a couple of cds to listen to so that I too could be enthralled by this latest discovery. After listening to a live recording from 2007, I wrote off Matt Schofield as another in a long line of guitar players who need to fill up every inch of space with the sound of their guitar. Schofield and organist Johnny Henderson took lengthy solos throughout the disc and while they are great players, they failed to hold my interest.

What a difference a few years make!! Schofield’s latest studio recording finds his musical vision honed to a laser-sharp edge, undoubtedly helped by having Grammy Award winning John Porter on board as the producer. There is still plenty of Schofield’s fine guitar work, which earned him the awards for Guitarist of the Year and Album of the Year for his Heads Tails & Aces release at the 2010 British Blues Awards. His crack band – Henderson on Hammond B-3 organ, bass keys and electric piano with Kevin Hayes on drums – provides all the support that the leader needs. The project was recorded at the Music Shed studio in New Orleans and features the great Jon Cleary on keyboards for three tunes.

The title track opens the disc with Schofield musing on how when all things are considered, time is the only thing of real value in life. It is one of eight songs Schofield composed with his writing partner, Dorothy Whittick. “Shipwrecked” sports a bouncy rhythm behind the leader’s ardent vocal and fiery guitar work. Schofield pays homage to the Jimi Hendrix guitar style on the ballad “Dreaming of You”. The band slips into a funky groove on “One Look (And I’m Hooked)”, with Cleary on clavinet and Schofield dropping his voice down into the baritone range. Cleary switches to piano on the shuffle “Don’t Know What I’d Do”, plunking away while Schofield turns in another blazing solo. “Share Our Smile Again” is a contemporary love song that hits home due to Schofield’s convincing vocal and ringing guitar chords.

The band builds a smoldering layer of tension on “See Me Through” until Schofield cuts through it with a burst of fleet-fingered playing. He is equally convincing on another slow blues, “Where Do I Have To Stand” with his spirited singing and fluid guitar lines a high point on the disc. Schofield covers “At Times We Do Forgot”, a Steve Winwood tune that makes it clear that he is equally adept in a rock music vein. On “Wrapped Up In Love”, Schofield bends and squeezes taut phrases out of his guitar strings in tribute to Albert King.

This very impressive project should garner Schofield a wider audience both in the US and around the world. It is a masterful effort that highlights Schofield’s many talents and the impressive contributions of his road-tested band. It also shows that Schofield may have what it takes to appeal to listeners beyond the blues genre. This one is highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.

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