Wednesday, July 02, 2014

SINGER/SONGWRITER JENNIFER MATTHEWS: An artist of the road, heart and life.

Jennifer Matthews  (Photo by Syed Zaman)

SINGER/SONGWRITER JENNIFER MATTHEWS: An artist of the road, heart and life.

By Doug Holder

Jennifer Matthews doesn’t walk into a room; it is more like she drifts in like some stray, haunting riff from a distant, deep, deep blue guitar. Matthews, formerly a Somerville resident is an accomplished musician who defies categorization. She told me at the Sherman Cafe as we consumed some tea and scones that she considers herself  "A singer, songwriter and roots/ rock&roll musician.” By “roots” Matthews means she use an acoustic mandolin, foot stomps, hand claps, and her signature acoustic blue guitar. She and her guitar are in a committed and monogamous relationship for the past 12 years. She was shown the guitar at a music store and was not impressed with it at first. She told the clerk, “But it is a Blue guitar!” He told her: “Play it.” And like many affairs of the heart, she reluctantly, but hopelessly fell in love. And this guitar is a perfect conduit for her brand of music.

 There is a word in Yiddish “luftmensch” which means an “air person”—a person who drifts around—is the opposite of materialistic— he or she moves freely with her intellect- seeks the spiritual— tastes philosophy-literature, a range of subjects and interests. This defines Matthews and her music. Her music addresses the ontological questions, the long journeys, the joys and the ephemeral nature of love, with always a look what is beyond this material dimension. Her ever-present wanderlust has taken all over Europe, Alaska, Austin, Texas, and to an off- the- grid, hand built Earthship house in the Ortiz mountains outside Madrid, New Mexico. According to her website, from 2006 to current times she has been touring locally and abroad. When she was in Rome in 2010 she released a DVD “ Live at the Piper Club Rome.” This was one of the venues she played at during her stay in Italy.

Matthews is releasing a 7th CD  "Tales of a Salty Sweetheart."  She has engineered this album herself and it was mixed by Phil Greene ( 25- time Grammy Award-winning engineer) who according to Matthews told her, “Tales of a Salty Sweetheart is one of my favorite records I have mixed in the last 10 years.” Matthews had a number of musician preform on this album including Russell Chudnofsky who played the Dobro slide guitar. The CD will be released by the label Thundamoon Records founded by her manager Rose Gardina, who also founded the Boston Girl Guide website and magazine.

Matthews, who is studying  at Salem State University for her degree in English, said when she writes lyrics she literally locks herself in a room. She smiled "I can’t be disturbed.” And like the poem finding the poet ,the song finds Matthews. Matthews says she is in touch with her “inner voice.” Her lyrics can be ethereal and transcendent and she counts Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan as spiritual masters who have influenced both her lyrics and music.

Matthews, who lives just across the border from Somerville, but often plays in our city, plans to have a media campaign that will reach college radio stations both locally and nationally. Matthews has lived the life of an artist. At time it was a hand to mouth existence—as  Dylan sang  --“better pawn it babe,” and she did at one time, no doubt.  I remember her telling me a story of when she was a little girl. Once she jumped up on a table and started singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in front of her friends. I can still see that girl in the woman and I have to believe she is somewhere near that place now.

For more information about upcoming events go to:Jennifer Matthews

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