The man that co-wrote Billy Currington’s #1 smash hit ‘Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right’ knows that nagging feeling. “Don’t get me wrong, I love it when other people record my music,” Matthews says, “but the opportunity to try it in front of people with nobody in between is pretty awesome. For me, it’s really a continuation of the creative process. I just want the opportunity to be heard myself.”
Even before the #1 single that earned him Music Row’s 2006 Breakthrough Writer of the Year, Matthews was building an impressive catalog of hits, including cuts for Luke Bryan (‘Country Man’), Julie Roberts and Trace Adkins (‘Break Down Here’), Kevin Denney (‘That’s Just Jesse), Tammy Cochran (‘Life Happened’) and James Otto (‘The Ball’), among others.
But Matthews’ reputation as just a songwriter is set to change with the recent release of his debut album, Hicotine. “The idea and concept behind Hicotine actually came before the song did,” he says. “My wife, Debbie, and I came up with the idea of the cigarette box, and it just hit me – we’re not selling nicotine, we’re selling Hicotine!” he laughs.
“This really is an album for all country music fans,” Debbie says simply. Matthews agrees. “Unfortunately, we’ve pretty much run off all the guys in country music – they’re all listening to talk radio and classic rock these days. I want to bring guys back to this format!”
If the response to the first single, “That’s What Mamas Do,” is any indication however, the message in Matthews’ music appears to be universal. “That’s the most special song I’ve ever written,” he says slowly. “I know a lot of times music gets boiled down to money and chart position, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about making music that touches the person listening to the music. The response we’ve gotten from this song just means the world to me, knowing that I’m making music that matters,” he says. “It’s more important and gratifying than any sales position.”
Aside from his proven skill as a songwriter, the other quality that separates Matthews from many of his peers is his voice. A genuine soul singer by definition, Matthews has just enough twang and attitude to disguise the fact that Motown and the British Invasion had just as much influence on his musical upbringing as Music City did. The common denominator has always been the ability of the artist to reach out and touch the listener, he says.
“My heroes have always been people that sing from deep down in their soul and get you to believe their song. People like Conway Twitty, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Merle Haggard, Jackson Browne,” he says passionately. “Great singers are believable, and I want to be believable when I sing my songs. I’m trying to communicate something to people.”