Matthews taps into pure inspiration
WHAT do you get when you combine the talents of Josh Pyke and Megan Washington with an icon of Australian music?
It’s the new album from Wendy Matthews, The Welcome Fire.
Originally from Canada, the Australian-based singer of hits like The Day You Went Away collaborated with Pyke, Washington, Mark Sholtez, Rod McCormack and John Castle, among others, to make her first album of original material in 12 years.
‘‘I’ve always had lots of journals and things with ideas and bits and pieces,’’ says Matthews, who doesn’t read or write music.
‘‘Just taking the time to get together with people to put it together was just something.’’
The result is an album containing songs that Matthews says actually ‘‘terrify’’ her.
‘‘I’ve had to tell myself, if you want to be an artist of any calibre, it’s not about holding things back,’’ she says.
She found some of it incredibly laborious, ‘‘sort of dragging me kicking and screaming’’, but also amazing, particularly in those moments of pure inspiration.
‘‘It’s a fantastic thing, that feeling when something just kind of comes through you rather than from you. You just think, Wow! There’s one or two songs that I’ve written in my entire life that were like that and on this record there was one of them.’’
When prompted which song it is, Matthews laughs, adding she won’t reveal the title. ‘‘I’ll leave it up to you.’’ Of all her music, Matthews says that her favourite songs to sing vary depending on the day and her mood.
‘‘If you want to dance around the house in your underwear vacuuming, then it’s Kiss Like Angels Do. If you want to have a good kind of cleansing cry it’s something like Little Boy or The Day You Went Away.’’
As for whether she ever tires of singing those hits, Matthews says it might sound cliche, but she just doesn’t. It’s more the lead-up to singing them that can be hard.
‘‘(Because) to me music is about inspiration and it’s supposed to well up inside you until you sing out or you cry out,’’ she says.
‘‘Knowing that every single night, no matter how you feel, you’re going to have to get up and do basically the same thing and just find a way to find (the emotion); the thought of it can be a little daunting.’’
But she says once she’s on stage, it just comes to her, and it’s always different from the last time she sang. And in the end, being the voice behind a song like The Day You Went Away is a humbling experience.
‘‘I just feel feel incredibly grateful and fortunate that I’ve sung one of those songs that seems to mean something to everybody,’’ she says.
‘‘Over the years, I’ve had people come up to me and say you know, we played it at my father’s funeral, or when my boyfriend went overseas for six months.’’
Matthews finds that songs and smells are the biggest trigger for transporting people to a specific moment in time.
‘‘And I love that, and when people say things like that to me I realise that I’m not the only one,’’ she says.
– CARIS BIZZACA The Welcome Fire is out now. Josh Pyke plays The Soundlounge tomorrow night.
What’s On, page 30-31
Wendy Matthews has released her first album of new material in 12 years