Matt Schofield - Far As I Can See

If you haven't heard of Matt Schofield - you really haven't been paying attention. "New" players crop up in the blues/guitar media because they're frighteningly young (aka prodigies), or fearsomely authentic - or because they were sidemen for genuine blues icons - or worse they are beautiful women and sold as such but who can really play! Schofield is none of these - he's a phenomenally gifted guitar player from England who's singelhandedly bringing electric blues guitar playing to a new level. Rated among the top ten British blues guitarists of all time by Guitar & Bass Magazine alongside Eric Clapton and Peter Green, Schofield's playing surpasses the agility of his elder peers, he brings more harmonic interest and variation to an otherwise seemingly static vocabulary - he sings, he plays, he writes and leads a expert trio live on tour in America and England often inviting musical guests up on stage.

Far As I Can See is Schofield's fifth official album and delivers on the promise of a band who can knock the paint off the walls of a club while taking advantage of a very few of the studio's enhancement tricks. The album was recorded essentially live - and then he went back to fix vocals and add some sonic layers. Released in 2014 - it's been in my CD player every month since - and more!

From Far Away opens the album with a grandiose radio-friendly manner the follwing styles range from the swinging "Clean Break," "Oakville Shuffle" and "Everything" - to the blues-rock aggression of "Getaway" in 7/8 time- Schofield throws in an unnecessary Neville Brothers' song "Yellow Moon" into the sequence - probably intended to add contrast and perhaps as a "gimme" to the rhythm section. The uptempo blues songs "Tell Me Some Lies" (Chuck Berry brought up to speed) and "Hindsight" compared to the mid-tempo groove of "Breaking Up Somebodies Home" prove that Schofield can drive expertly on any surface tempo. The entire album's sweeps across the many different perspectives makes listening to it in sequence a pleasure, the differences enhance the value of each different tune.

Here's (above) Schofield playing "The Day You Left" live at the Kitchener Blues Festival, on August 9th, 2014.

While Schofield himself may think "Red Dragon" as somewhat of an an hommage to Hendrix might show his playing to the best on this collection I would argue that "The Day You Left" is the best piece of musical writing or composition and guitar playing on the album and represents a direction all modern blues players should pay serious heed to - the studio version of this song contained on this CD is really great - but live the song will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. As we say - this one is worth the price of admission. Here's hoping Schofield puts out another album soon.

— Conrad Warre


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