That's our old pal Matt Scott at it again, and that's a good thing. Join us, one and all, and hear some guy on the internet crack a wee cider and tell you what he thinks of Matt's upcoming single "All Out Of Sorts".
Ayrshire singer/songwriter Matt Scott has a well cultivated sound about his music. That includes his solo efforts and his own songs played with a cracking backing band. So "All Out Of Sorts" is a good title for his new single. It's a wee bit different from his other recent releases, but it is unmistakably a Matt Scott track.
Hit play on this single and the drum hits will fire you straight into a lead guitar line that will stick itself in your head with ease. It's light, melodic and it's one of the more memorable parts of the song. Already to me the track seems heavier on the electric than I might expect from the Killie Troubadour. Hold back on shouting "Judas!" for now however, as the acoustic guitar makes itself known off the back of a tasteful wee bass run into the first verse. The electric guitars mostly dropping out here too, leaving room for Matt's voice. I did notice something as soon as the vocals kicked in. They were in a higher register than usual. And less "gravely", "smokey" and "gruff" which Matt no doubt hears his voice described as all the time. You'll be able to hear the difference yourself if you compare it to say, "You Cried" from his 2017 EP (Available on Spotify and at www.soundcloud.com/mattjamesscott).
Before you know it, here you are at the chorus. Electric guitars and all. The vocal melody here stands out to me, it has a lovely slow rise and fall over the length of the section. It would have been nice to hear some backing vocals on these sections but it is well suited for a crowd sing along upon its release into the real world. Here's your lead guitar from the intro back as well, doing a very good job of filling the air between the vocals. It's worth talking about the rhythm section tracks here too. After a few listens I began to notice the subtlety around them. It's understated. Nothing unnecessary here. Matt Scott plays these parts himself so it's no wonder the rest of the instrumental tracks are created to compliment that big voice of his. (Unrelated note, how does one make love to a mans voice and his voice alone? Answers on a postcard please). I wonder though, is there room for some unnecessary bass lines? maybe a wee jam section on the secret background organ? The vocal melody at the end of the chorus is a strong part of this song I feel. It falls down gently from the line before, and I expected it to keep descending in a more traditional way. But it only drops a wee bit and stops. Which is surprising (not "FUCK, THERES A WASP IN MY DRAWERS!" surprising more "Hrmm, there's a pound coin in my slipper." surprising) but it's not off-putting. Not as off-putting as my slippery ghost chat anyway.
The next minute or so of the track offers the listener more of the same. Until after the second chorus that is. Here comes Matt Scott's John Hancock. A big durty, howlin, moothy solo. For the readers who are unfamiliar with Matt Scott, acoustic guitars and harmonicas are to him, what wearing black is to Johnny Cash. Or smoking pot is to Willie Nelson. I sat grinning away to myself at this point on my first listen. This section here is a duet between Matt on the mouth organ itself, and his brother John on lead guitar (the only two musicians on this recording). Maybe I'm reading into it too much here, and maybe it's only because I know they're brothers, but it sounds to me like the mouth organ and the guitar fighting each other. Arguing and coming to blows over who owns the catchy lead part from earlier. "I wrote it!" the harmonica screams, "Aye, well Dad said I could play it!" the guitar cries back. Brotherly love aside it's good to hear this familiarity in the track. Even though you can no doubt tell I'm enjoying it otherwise. Different or not.
For the readers worried brother John ends up overshadowed here, fear not. He gets the money-shot of the track. Matt extends the end of the last chorus, almost as if to wind up John before his big solo. He nails the lead in regardless. I liked the guitar work here. It's flashy but not narcissistic. It's typically Americana (whatever that means now anyway) but it isn't boring. And ultimately it's a fitting end to the track. After a couple of times round the track I placed a possible influence on the song. The whole piece does, but the outro especially it has a slight CCR vibe about it. I thought of "Up Around The Bend" in particular. I'd recommend Matt's work to fans of CCR, and indeed to fans of Nashville greats and country legends. Speaking of American influences on the tune however...
You can still hear a wee bit of Mr Scott's hero Bob Dylan come through in this track. Especially if you imagine stripping back the lead guitars, bass, drums and sneaky background organ. If you were to strip it back, you would find the core traits of Matt Scott as a musician. Which I think is honesty and simplicity. It's on this core that Matt builds his full releases around. This time it involves, big choruses, catchy guitar work and subtlety. Last time that involved slide guitars, fiddles, and the odd saxophone. "All Out Of Sorts" might get this treatment too when his live band get a hold of it right enough. However I wouldn't say the fiddle, sax and slide are "missing" from this track as such. It does make sense as it is without them. And oor Matt isn't a one trick pony so I'm happy to see a progression from his last release.
All in all it's a new direction for Matt Scott to step in. I can't criticise him for that, not as long as the tunes he writes go down well with a can of jessie berry cider on a warm summers eve. Which this one does. If anything my biggest criticism of the single is that it's a single. I'd love to hear three or four more tracks in a similar vain released soon. Even though "All Out Sorts" isn't knocking my favourite Matt Scott song off it's throne, it is a worthy contender. All Out Of Sorts will be released on the 27th of July. I'll be keeping an eye out for it, and you should too.