After 12 years it’s a fitting Welcome Fire

WHILE we haven't seen Wendy Matthews perform on the North Coast for quite a while or release an original album in more than a decade, she hasn't been sitting idly by in any sense.

The multiple-award winning singer has been out on the road touring the country and recording music, it's just been a long time between albums featuring her own songs, and well, Australia is a big country with lots of venues to fill.

The Welcome Fire is Wendy's first all-original album in 12 years and while she is virtually a local, living in the hinterland north of Coffs Harbour, she is looking forward to playing her 'locals' again soon.

"I'll be driving myself to all these gigs, so I might bring the dog along," Wendy laughs.

> > > Wendy Matthews & The White Horse Band will be performing at the Grafton District Services Club on June 14 and the Coffs Surf Club Restaurant and Bar on June 21.

Wendy said she did take about a year off touring to work on this album that features a range of new tracks, some co-written with some of the country's most talented musicians including Josh Pyke, Megan Washington and Rod McCormack.

"I worked with a few very different people. Some I knew, others I'd never met before. It was a really interesting experience opening me up again to all that stuff."

Wendy says this album is different to her previous releases in so much as what the passage of time brings to a person.

"I think age and a little bit more wisdom and experience gives you a different perspective. It allows you to write about a few things that you may not have before for what-ever reason, or had the courage or clarity to or guts to get it out.

"I think the only redeeming thing about getting older is that you don't give a crap about what other people think about you anymore," she laughs.

"Or so much. It allows a certain level of even more honesty."

Of course, Wendy Matthews is famous for her voice, which along with her songwriting has evolved over time.

But it's more about her vocals being at their destination rather than changing in any fashion.

"It's kind of odd because so many people come up to me after a gig and say to me 'Well you've still got it' and I think, well I've been singing for over 50 years now so if I don't have it by now...," she jokes.

"When you tour you practise and people get better with practise and age and not worse. I've never known my craft better than I do right at this moment. Sure there's always more to learn but I know my voice better than anything now."

Perhaps Wendy's most memorable song from her string of hits is the tear-inducing The Day You Went Away.

After disclosing some rather embarrassing eye-welling that went on just before the interview courtesy of a You Tube video clip refresher, Wendy admitted that song does mean many different things to people.

"Over the years I've been approached by a lot of people about that song. Everyone has a story. Apparently it gets used for a lot of parents' funerals and even children's, pets; and boyfriends going overseas. It just seems to fit into people's lives."

Wendy said she will be playing a "handful of new stuff" plus some acoustic numbers and some with her full backing band - The White Horse band.

"There'll be ups and downs along the way. We have eight or nine studio albums to choose from so there'll be plenty of songs people will know hopefully."

And while singing is something Wendy Matthews built a successful career around, she doesn't particularly enjoy those television shows based around it.

"I don't like them. I've even given Foxtel back their box. It's just not my thing. That's all. They're game shows at the end of the day," she said.

"There are some wonderful young singers out there but it's not about celebrating anybody's uniqueness or independence. It's enjoyable for a minute but I think it's kind of dangerous the way things are going."

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