Wendy Matthews

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Some records knock you sideways, forcing you to rethink your preconceptions.
Wendy Matthews’ Café Naturale is one of those records.

It’s a mixed up, chilled-out record that’s partly bound up in memories of songs you fell in love to, made new friends with,
talked and laughed and fought through. But mixed amongst these are some surprises that will be
new to the listener and some gems that will bring back more subtle memories.

The music immediately evokes a feeling of familiarity, which is a testament to Wendy Matthews – her voice,
her poise and her extraordinary gift for interpretation. Qualities that have entranced millions since the
release of Wendy’s debut album in 1990. Qualities that seem more powerful and unique with each passing year.

This eclectic suite of songs on Café Naturale is drawn from different time zones in our musical history.
They are rendered here as a melodic feast of lush, acoustic soundscapes that cradle Matthews' unmistakable voice,
while taking her into new territory that proves she’s no stranger to reinvention.

She is, of course, known for her hauntingly beautiful vocals and has seven ARIAs to her name, not to mention the seminal albums Lily, Émigré and The Witness Tree. The Canadian-born singer joined her first blues band aged 15, then embarked on a career that would see her sing her way to Australia in 1983 to set up home on these shores.

Matthews enlisted the help of producer Michael Szumowski. They picked only those songs that were pure magic in the studio, from Moon Beneath My Feet by obscure Irish writer Naoise Sheridan through to Al Green’s Love and Happiness, All I Need by French lounge lizards Air and the classic Australian song Short Note by Matt Finish.

Recorded in Sydney’s Tiger Studios with the help of some of the finest musicians in Australia,
Café Naturale was laid down on good old-fashioned tape without resorting to any of the studio trickery
(programming, looping, auto-tuning) that adorns most contemporary albums. Tracks were tried and tested
with the band before making it onto the record, and in many instances played live in the studio.

The band – including Brett Hirst (Vince Jones, Sydney Symphony Orchestra) on bass, Felix Bloxsom (Alex Lloyd, Sia)
on drums, Brendan St. Ledger (Marcia Hines/Delta Goodrem) on piano and Jak Housden (The Whitlams) playing guitar - spent long days jamming, developing the sophisticated grooves and atmospheres that Matthews
and Szumowski had originally envisaged. To add to the authenticity of the sound, Matthews sang
into the microphone used by legendary Frank Sinatra during his infamous 50’s Australian tour.

"I think it’s human nature to box people in, just in terms of reference in order to understand what it is
they do…but I resist it," she says. "To keep creative you have to break down your own personal barriers.
With this record that meant moving away from pop and crafting something instrument-driven, something that
feels like me playing live. So this is an acoustic album, taking a very eclectic selection of songs - some original,
some not, some old, some new - and turning them around, completely stripping them back to make them something else."


 

  • Australian Blues Brothers Show
  • Brad Blaze
  • Brad Croft
  • Bustagroove
  • Daryl Braithwaite
  • Jimmy Barnes
  • Katie Noonan
  • Kisstroyer
  • Lady Luck
  • NICA
  • Nyssa Large
  • Red Alert
  • Wilbur Wilde

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