By Stephen Cooke
When he died in 2018 at the age of 50, Nova Scotia musician Matthew Grimson left behind an impressive body of work that practically no one ever heard outside of his home town.
Apart from the 10 songs on his lone CD A Life Played for Keeps from 2001 and the 2010 single Matthew Doesn’t Live Here Anymore produced by Joel Plaskett, the idiosyncratic songwriter’s intensely personal and deeply literary compositions were generally only heard at his sporadic solo and band shows at places like Tribeca, the Company House and local coffee houses by a small but devoted band of fans, friends and fellow musicians.
It’s a story similar to others heard before in popular music, with names like Moby Grape’s Skip Spence, Big Star’s Chris Bell, British folk icon Nick Drake or Laurel Canyon angel Judee Sill. Artists who had a gift or singular vision whose personalities or personal issues made them ill-suited to sharing their work through the grind of the music industry, but who made music with a timeless quality that has been elevated to new levels of appreciation since their passing.
Two well-known musicians who championed Grimson’s work during his lifetime have teamed up to present a snapshot of his creative power captured during sessions in 1995, with the release of Prize for Writing. A labour of love produced by Sloan singer/bassist Chris Murphy and given some post-production polish at New Scotland Yard by Plaskett and engineer Thomas Stajcer, the record is a limited-run vinyl pressing that finally sees the light of day on Aug. 7 as a rare co-release by Sloan’s murderecords imprint and Plaskett’s New Scotland Records, available at Taz Records outlets, matthewgrimson.com and on streaming services.