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Anger has given way to acceptance in Wendy Matthews' album Ghosts.

The Age newspaper
Story by Deborah Stone.

She doesn't look like her voice. Strong and sure and with a kind of gentle wisdom, Wendy Matthews sounds like a bigger, broodier broad. In fact, she is slight to the point of delicacy with an honest vulnerability that is not just physical.

Wendy Launching her fourth album, she realises a certain success has its price in the levels of expectation. People, especially men she sighs, sometimes perceive her as intimidating just because she's making it with her music. It's not how she wants things to be. "There's a bit of fear there and that doesn't feel good. How many times can you elbow someone and say, 'Hey, just relax'."

Now in her mid-30s, Matthews has crafted her latest collection to have a personality that makes her feel comfortable, something a little gentler, a little more accepting. It mirrors what's been going on in her life, acknowledging and sometimes struggling with the relationship patterns she finds herself repeating. Getting to like living alone - though sometimes it still gets too much.

The songs of Ghosts, mostly written by Matthews and co-writer Englishman Glenn Skinner, touch on the knowledge it takes a few years to get, the way patterns are repeated and pasts come back to haunt. "Thinking about what each of the songs is about, there's cause in there to be angry but it's not angry. There's a certain acceptance there. If I'm treated badly I will get angry for a minute, but the general emotion of that is really sadness that it's turned out that way."

Matthews likes each album to have a distinct feel, as an entity not just a collection. "I like a bit of a journey on an album, not a concept but just to tell a subtle story or brush away the path a little. Hugely varying styles of stuff take me one place and then takes me a minute to think 'where are we now?"

Wendy Ghosts is the first album she has produced, working again with Skinner, a role she says gave her a title for being "mouthy" about what she wanted, controlling the sound more closely. "I often rely on what first comes out when you are writing a song. There's a certain bit of magic there that's impossible to recreate, so you have to find an interesting way of in fact recreating the song and adding a little bit of new magic to it."

"Live stuff is so immediate you can't ignore the feeling of when you get a few hundred human beings in the same room, it's an immediate exchange. Recording is all about trying things but it's also about capturing a moment. The guitar player can do the same line six times but somehow the second time is right. You can feel something more than hear it.

Feeling something is the key for Matthews. Marketing to the point of genius seems to her to be a big part of the music world right now, but she says she can't work to a demographic. "It has to come from a genuine place."


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The Netherlands, Europe
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