Speaking about the late Nova Scotia songwriter Matthew Grimson on an hour-long Zoom call, Joel Plaskett and Sloan singer-bassist Chris Murphy smile sometimes and come close to tears at others. Mostly they are in awe of the obscure man’s peculiar gifts.

“Matthew’s singing was peculiar, his delivery was strange,” says Plaskett, a Juno-winning melodic rocker. “He was destined to ride in the fringes, but he was immensely inspiring as a lyricist.” Adds Murphy, “Within one song he could have me laughing my butt off and crying my eyes out. It’s a skill I wish I had.”

Grimson, a literate grunge-rock balladeer who endured mental-health issues, took his own life at age 50 in 2018. Though a cherished figure in the Halifax music scene, the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter released only one album in his lifetime, 2002′s A Life Played for Keeps. Plaskett and Murphy have now collaborated on an album that celebrates a gifted unknown.

Matthew Grimson: Prize For Writing compiles 15 long-lost lo-fi songs by Grimson recorded by Murphy on a four-track machine in 1995, recently polished and remixed by Plaskett at his studio in Dartmouth, N.S. It’s set for release on Friday, available at Grimson’s Bandcamp site.

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