Label: Universal/Island Release date: 25/05/09 Website: http://www.scottmatthewsmusic.co.uk/ It's all too easy to throw Scott Matthews in with the James Morrison and, God forbid, James Blunt crowd of soulless singer-songwriters, who are all surface, no substance and who the main consumers think are 'deep' and 'edgy'. To make this assumption however, is quite a damning error; with his first album, Passing Stranger, Matthews showed talents that went beyond those of the average pop star, harnessing blues and eastern sounds, with dreamlike lyrics and tablas, jamming with slide guitars. He proved himself to be more of a Donovan/Robert Plant figure than a Jack Johnson. Now, after three years of mysterious musical disappearance, Scott Matthews has reemerged with an album of more phantasmagorical features. The artwork of Elsewhere depicts a minuscule figure on a striking horizon, made up of stormy colours that darken towards the centre. It is in this sky that you would imagine all of the notes and lyrics swarm around and get sucked into the void. There is certainly a link between this album, and both the wrath and beauty of nature; 'Underlying Lies' in particular conveys tempestuous angst. It's a pathetic fallacy created by percussion and strings that Matthews uses to put across an anger that is absent in the softer, calmer Passing Stranger and this fresh passion is more than welcome to the ears. And yet, in 'Jagged Melody' and the title track his voice becomes a soothing breeze along with the theremin-like accompanying instruments The begrudging disappointment that I suffer as I listen to Elsewhere is that Matthews has completely abandoned his use of world influences. What originally gave him his great twist was his evident fascination with eastern music, which in tracks like 'Dream Song' he would apply to his own style. As well as the eastern culture he has explored country roots in songs, such as 'Sweet Scented Figure', where his use of slide guitars made his work all the more intriguing. There is no sign of it in the new album and although it's enlightening to try out new methods instead of sticking with the same old sounds, I was looking forward to hearing how Matthews could take his previous influences to the next level. With that in mind, it's not to say that the wholesome, ambient folk music that persists throughout is not a blissful listen. It can seem slightly repetitive on the first couple of gos, but once you lose yourself in it you can appreciate the skilled arrangements and the many relationship stories that Matthews puts out there. There are many enriching perks to back the album up as well, like a duet with Robert Plant on '12 Harps', who not only compliments the compositions perfectly, but yet again makes for a joyful ear opener. Rating: 8/10