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.

Though she shifted to a coastal haven on the North Coast two years ago, Matthews called Bondi home for years. "I spent a lot of time in my favourite cafe there listening to records. There’s nothing like a song to bring you back to a specific moment or feeling in time." Add this element to the way the album was recorded - stripped-back and unadorned. This led Wendy very naturally to the title of Café Naturale.

The songs are special too. "Even I’m surprised by some of the song choices," admits Matthews of the final track list.
"Once we got into the studio the record started to reveal its personality to me. It all came together and the songs,
these very melodic songs, started to make themselves known. It just worked."

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.

 

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  • Katie Noonan
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  • Red Alert
  • Wilbur Wilde

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