Eric Matthews The Imagination Stage

Eric Matthews The Imagination Stage
Eric Matthews could affectionately be described as a "difficult artist.” The difficulty comes from the way he constructs his songs, in an almost wilfully obtuse way that demands the listener’s absolute attention. It’s as if Scott Walker became a student of the Jimmy Webb school of songwriting instead of following his current more experimental path, and that translates into interesting, intricately arranged music. The Imagination Stage is not an easy album, despite featuring some of Matthews’ most finely crafted pop songs. As the title implies, his music is beginning to take on a more dreamlike quality, as if he has successfully opened up a window into his subconscious. Naturally, it isn’t all breezy pop: "Her Life” spends the majority of its running time as an organ- and brass- laden funereal dirge that would never be mistaken for uplifting. With Matthews composing and playing every note, there’s no doubt that this is a very personal record, which he delivers with absolute conviction. The songs take a few listens to surrender their charms but when they finally do, they are accompanied by the realisation that The Imagination Stage is Matthews’ finest album to date. (Empyrean)