Eric Matthews Rediscovers 'Passion'
After spending almost a decade out of sight, pop craftsman Eric Matthews will re-emerge this spring with a long-awaited new album and a lost classic.After spending almost a decade out of sight, pop craftsman Eric Matthews will re-emerge this spring with a long-awaited new album and a lost classic.
On March 8, Matthews will release "Six Kinds of Passion Looking for an Exit," his first solo album since 1997's "The Lateness of the Hour," via Wishing Tree Records' Empyrean imprint. And in May, Empyrean also plans to reissue the self-titled release from Cardinal, Matthews' 1994 collaboration with Australian singer/songwriter Richard Davies.
The seven-track "Six Kinds of Passion," which features Matthews playing almost all the instruments, doesn't include the lush strings and arrangements of his two previous outings for Sub Pop, but the intricate, Brian Wilson-style compositions remain.
The album took extra time to develop after some of Matthews' recordings for a planned third album were bootlegged. He also held out hope he'd have the budget to once again orchestrate his songs. In the meantime, the artist made occasional guest spots on records by Tahiti 80 and Ivy principal Andy Chase's Brookville project.
Finally, "enough years had passed, and the right person came along and seemed to believe in me, and believe in this set of songs enough, that I was able to suck it up and make this record," Matthews tells Billboard.com. "And I'm happy with the result."
One of the new songs is "Cardinal Is More," which discusses Matthews' estrangement from Davies and confesses, "You said I hated you / but it just wasn't true." Their album together as Cardinal won critical raves for its orchestral pop, but Matthews and Davies fell out after its release and haven't worked together since.
But Matthews says after he and Davies regained ownership of the album last year, a reissue "couldn't happen if Richard and I were still strangers." After the ice was broken, "lots of good phone conversations and friendly e-mails" have resulted, and the two are even contemplating a future collaboration.
One thing Matthews hasn't reconciled himself to, however, is touring. He hasn't planned any shows in support of his new album, preferring to follow the example of studio-bound influences like Wilson and XTC. "They were like extra heroes to me," he says, "because they just stayed home."
Matthews' own studio archives, meanwhile, will be raided for the Cardinal re-release, which will feature 11 bonus tracks appended to the original 10-song running order. Included will be the contents of the long out-of-print "Toy Bell" EP, as well as some unreleased material.
"There are a couple of things I discovered," Matthews says, "that are just mind-blowing."