The greatest compliment I can pay British bluesman Matt Schofield is that as soon as his latest album Heads, Tails & Aces came to an end I found myself reaching for my Rory Gallagher vinyl. To me Rory will always be one of the greatest of all guitar gods and Matt Schofield had quite simply set the scene for me to play those albums again.
Heads, Tails & Aces confirms all of those superlative soaked reviews that we read when he first appeared on the scene back in 2005 with his debut album Siftin’ Thru Ashes. When he followed that in 2007 with Ear To The Ground his heady mix of blues, New Orleans funk, and R&B, with the odd splash of jazz for good measure was the stuff of excited intoxication among the rock media.
Heads, Tails & Aces has him homing in on the blues, leaving behind some of the funkier elements of his previous two releases. The result is a stunning trip through nine original and two cover tracks containing some the best blues guitar I’ve heard in a long time. Whilst the US has Joe Bonamassa then the UK can doubtless be proud of its own Matt Schofield.
His playing has a smooth, seamless, and almost effortless quality to it that revive those memories of some of the greatest of them all. His playing is underpinned by the keyboards of Jonny Henderson, the bass of Jeff Walker, and drummer Alain Baudry, all of whom add their expertise to this fine album.
Matt Schofield started listening to the blues in his early teens. He learnt his trade working alongside Dana Gillespie whilst touring the UK, Europe, and as far away as India. When he formed his first band, a trio, he took a leaf out of Stevie Ray’s older brother Jimmie Vaughan’s book by not having a bass player. Instead it was covered by Jonny Henderson’s Hammond.
They released a low key, eight-track covers album entitled The Trio – Live. Despite being a low cost release it circulated quickly, receiving airplay on either side of the Atlantic, and Matt Schofield became one to most definitely watch out for.
His decision to focus on the blues for Heads, Tails & Aces shines a beacon on his extraordinary guitar skills. Within a few bars you can hear exactly why this guy has had experts excitedly declaring him one of the hottest prospects around.