A review of Matthew Jays "Draw"

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When I got this I’ve been shopping in “Missing” in Paisley and I noticed an old card case with dull colours and the simple plain looking words “MATTHEWJAY draw” on the bottom. One to be easily intrigued and always looking for a bargain I saw a “£0.25” price sticker and was unable to to turn down what suddenly became one the best buys I’ve ever made.
On the back of the case is the track listing, the copyright information and the words “For promotional use only” (so I admit I’m not reviewing the commercial released, but the track listing is the same).

Now having never heard of Matthew Jay I was just hoping the album was worth a play or two through, I often make the mistake with these sorts of CD’s where something appeals to me, but after listening to the first track I hate it. this however was love at first listen.

For those of you like myself who have/had never heard of Matthew Jay, I’ll write you a little bit of detail.

Who was Matthew Jay?
Yes, was. Matthew was a hugely talented folk-pop singer born folk musician parents in Plymouth (England). Who sadly passed away in 2004 after falling out of a hotel window, however rather than focus on what a wasteful talent his death was, lets try and keep to good points of his short career.

What sort of music did Matthew make?

Matthews music on “Draw” ranged from the soft and often mellow folk stylings of another lost English talent (Nick Drake) to the almost folk-punk feeling of the opening track (possibly comparative to an acoustic of Jeff Buckley’s classic “Eternal Life”). The catchy electronic feelings of Lightning seeds (in the song “Call my name” most prominently) and a large dose of badly drawn boy to finish of the recipe of Matthew Jay.

What is “Draw”?

Draw was sadly the only full album that Matthew Jay released in his lifetime, unlike the also tragic career of Jeff Buckley, no live albums have been released since (though a rarities was released post-humously in 2004, entitled “Too soon”). Draw it’s self is a somewhat eclectic 12 track album that was released on the tail of the 3 EP’s Jay released in 2000 (“Four songs” and “Friendly fire” were UK only and “Four minute Rebellion EP” was a US only release). The album did receive a large amount of critical aclaim in the media and spawned 3 singles.
“Let your shoulder fall” (March ’01)
“Please don’t send me away” (June ’01)
“Call my name out” (November ’01)

What might we recognise from “Draw”?

To be honest, nothing springs to mind, however “Let your shoulder fall” would be the most likely option.

Anything else we should know?

In 2006 a post humous single was released by download only “What would love do now” with proceeds going to the UNICEF campaign “Born free from HIV” and a further album is to be released in late 2007 (currently untitled) and more musical videos are planned.

That everything?
Yeah, just about.

The band:
Matthew Jay (vocals, guitar);
Alison Smith (vocals);
Sam Hempton (guitar);
Nick Reynolds (harmonica);
Eddy Jay (accordion);
Martyn Watson (piano, sound effects);
Garf (bass);
Matt Klose, Dylan Howe (drums);
IPG (loops).

Now onto the actual review of the album which starts with the instant classic “Four minute rebellion” (which is way short of 4-mins, lasting only 1:47). A some what misleading title to start the album with the punk undertones however the strong and accessible folk roots to Matthew Jay are evident throughout out the title and even the blatant swear words don’t take the tint off a wonderfully catchy opener to the album. The acoustic guitar really just sits so well with Jay’s voice that they sound like they were made to be together. 10/10

“Let Your Shoulder Fall” follow and takes a more orthodox folk pop feel to it, with a but of an unusually swift tempo to the track. The lyrical composition includes some totally wondrous imagery “Im shaking like a newborn tree” being just one of many that make you think about what a talented young man Matthew was. The song does end with some electro-synth sounds which are more prevalent later in the album, and despite these often being a pet peeve of mine as artists over uses them, they have been used to perfection in a track that really shows you how good Matthew sounds. His vocals just flow like time with out any slight slip ups and maintain a perfect tune to them throughout. 11/10

“Your always going to soon” this has a much more of a “happy” Nick Drake feel to it vocally with Drakes almost perfect yet hollow sounds with a sliding scale. The song sounds a bit like a Coldplay style thing with the fast-slow combination of Coldplays better songs. The slower overall pace to the previous tracks does again show the overall variation of talent of this wonderful young man. A bit of a sad song lyrically as it seems to depict the breaking down of a friendship over the years. Thought even with these Drake-esque lyrics the song does maintain some semblance of cheeryness. 9/10
“Only meant to say” another lyrically sad one but another vocally impressive display with music that drags you away from thinking deeply about the lyrics and plops you into Liverpool, circa 1987 with Ian Broudie and Co. Playing some Lightening Seeds throughout the chorus the almost dancey feel to the rhythm of the song is an odd break from the previous tracks but like previously said the album does seem a little eclectic at times and is held in place by the vocal talent of a young Matthew Jay. 9/10

“Meteorology” starts a bit like a smooth Oasis track to be fair, that stays relaxed but does layer it’s self well. A song that really brings back the lyrical styling of Nick Drake again with simple but brilliantly effective rhymes. A slow folk song with a finger in the pie of pop culture would be a nice way to describe to describe another masterpiece by Mr Jay. The song song just seems like it’s wanting to stick in your head rather than stand out (can anything stand out if everything is amazing?), which Jay seems to realise the album needs. 9/10

“Call my name out” another song that sounds somewhat Lightening Seeds like the electro sounds sound just like Broudies trademark with the electricised vocals and happy pop feel that Broudie kept with when producing for The zutons. The quick pace and simple chorus structure gives the listener something to really feel as the song goes on and also gets the listener swaying to the simple electro-pop feel of the track. Another example of how really eclectic this young man was and how many different ways he could have taken his career after it. He could have gone this electro-pop way, he could have gone the folk-pop way, and he could have become a bit more of an out-and-out popstar or followed the growing indie sounds that followed his death. 10/10

“Molasses” follows and is the only instrumental from the album (thankfully as im not a big fan of instrumentals) and shows yet another way that Jay could have gone had it not been for that fateful night in a Nottinghamshire based hotel. A sad musical peace that again resets the tone of the album after the happy “Call my name out” this has a certain melancholy to it that doesn’t quite keep in fitting with many of the other tracks in the album and mixes an acoustic guitar with keyboards sounds pretty much perfectly. 8/10
“Please don’t send me away” the way the song immediately reminds me of a Foo Fighters acoustic, before turning into a much more indie-folk style track that could be quite easy to confuse for a Jeff Buckley track (circa “Sketches for: My Sweetheart the drunk”). Mixing up beautiful lyrics, a wonderful vocal (by now expected to be honest) and soft but yet mood setting musical accompaniment. The track is rather catchy and is one that you can imagine people swaying to at a live performance due to the overall brilliance of the composition. One of the most perfectly balanced songs I have ever heard. 11/10

“Remember this feeling” a song with slight touches of Lightening Seeds again with the soft somewhat funky pop folk mix that the song has. The lyrics in places are so sublime that you really realise the music industry could do with a guy like this now a days, capable of singing anything to perfection and writing lyrics that compliment this unique ability. The song does have something that grips your mind and carries you away into a land of musical dreamland’s where you just want to stay until the end of time. 11/10

“Become yourself” another song that feels like something you’ve heard but you can’t quite remember where you’ve heard it, but you realise you don’t care because the song your listening to is the here and now and it again seems to take you to a land of musical genius. It sounds a little bit like a tamed “The sound track of our lives” song as far as the musics concerned and the vocals, do I even need to mention how amazing they are? It’s rare to have 3 wonderful songs on an alb um, this album has 3 one after the other. The catchy tune and chorus is something you can’t help but love as he seemingly showers us with his glittering voice. 11/10

“The clearing” a song that sounds a bit like a catchier song by the Coral, or possibly a bit more like Badly Drawn Boy (yes they do have some similarities). the lyrical rhyme style of A-B-C-C in the verses helps you to sing along and the chorus is almost made for singing along to. Despite the song being good enough to fit on any album, it does come as a slight disappointment after the previous 3 tracks of solid platinum this looks like a 24k gold ring in comparison. The catchy folk pop that many of the songs fall into the broad description of would possibly fit this song better than the others. 10/10

The final track “A world away” a lot more of a classical vocal style is used in what is basically the albums “Hallelujah” moment (compared to the song from “Grace” by Jeff Buckley) due to the religious tones, the softer feel, and the some what blatant sexual references. The song feels like another one of them “I’ve heard of something like this…but don’t know where”. A brilliant ending to the best 25p I’ve ever spent, with a track that I think is actually about drugs (please correct me if I’m wrong). Simple musical backing and the song is almost totally held by Jay’s voice, and my god is it brilliant. 11/10

Summary, it’s hard to find, but if you can get it, get it.

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