"That peculiar voice? Its timbre is reminiscent of a less polished Hope Sandoval, with a hint of the Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins in there, along with the rawness and brute honesty of a young Hazel Dickens, and at times a pronounced and savvy blues streak that will manifest itself at the most unexpected moments and with a certain startling twist in her slurred phrasing reminiscent of Lil Green. Mesmerizing, riveting, wounded and unself-consciously funny at times .... Serena’s vocals are never less than honest and heartfelt expressions of, it seems, exactly what she’s feeling at the moment, with no evidence of an editor’s hand at work as she tells her stories. Other artists talk about being an open book; Serena Matthews is an open book--it’s not even a close call to say so. Stranger still, the voice, sometimes a bit sandpapery, soft but with depth, is of indeterminate age--she might be eight years old, or eighty."
"...Serena has written of herself: “I write songs about made-up folks living made-up lives in a made-up world that kind of resembles this one.”I don’t agree. I think she writes about this world but she sees it differently from the rest of us. She writes from the point of view of ravens being shot at, sings about dead people in cars and narrates Emily Dickinson’s dreams.I was intrigued on many levels. Why would she not play ‘live’? Serena clearly had some great songs, a lovely (and sellable) voice and was pretty too. It made no sense to me. She even had stars like Jewel talking about her..." (Click here to read the full article and interview by Tim Prince.)
"A Deep Roots favorite–and of TheBluegrassSpecial.com before that–Serena Matthews rung in 2013 by recording a new song, not an original but a beautiful interpretation of Johnny Mercer’s classic “Moon River” that brooks favorable comparison to Audrey Hepburn’s version. We don’t know why she chose this tune, but we’re glad she did. "
".... She sings all the songs you wish Victoria Williams would sing if she wasn't trying to sound like a 6 year old. Serena is the girl from all those Whiskeytown albums that Ryan let get away. Serena is the girl that would easily win Nashville Star if she would ever sell out and audition for it but she can't find it in her to be the girl who waits in line for hours only to be critiqued by Gina Gershon's brother. Serena is the girl who could probably sell a lot more records if she didn't let her family come before her work, but she knows never to let that happen. So, if you enjoy an acoustic guitar and a soft twang in a voice, singing to you beautiful folky ballads, then I have found your new favorite muse...."
- Chapman James, besonic.com
"In her "Backstreet Cafe" she shares a dream or two and finds a way to breath words like "pretty" and "crazy" with such intensity that a 5 minute cup of coffee becomes an hours stay just to hear what she says next. I would daresay that her simple arrangements offered online are so classic that to see her live and to own her complete set of recordings would be a great investment in serenity."
"Serena Matthews's distinctive, slightly raspy voice gives her bare-bones, folk-country pop a girliish appeal."
"The 21 songs on 2012 are each delicate aural paintings of raw depth and beauty which stand up to repeated listening because of their elemental nature. Whether she’s singing about a man going to his death (“Crow Song”) or observing the rare transcendent grace of the world around us (“Blackbird Fly Away”), Serena doesn’t mince words. Hearing these compositions all in one place after all these years simply accentuates what makes them so memorable and indispensable. Serena doesn’t want fame, but she’ll continue to have a rapt audience as long as she continues to release such stunning music. 2012 is a stirring example of Americana at its finest, and it deserves to be savored."
" As you listen to Serena’s songs, you get the feeling that she is mournfully content. There is a lament for things past, but she cherishes her life for what it has become. There is wisdom to her songs, as she takes the most mundane items in life and shows us how we relate. There is no fluff or filler, no embellishments or white lies. In a world full of people who always want more, Serena encourages listeners to stop and smile at what they have now. Even though her music is understated, it has the ability to command your attention, to get you to pause, even if only for a moment.... ...Perhaps one of the best compliments an artist can receive is when there is no mainstream artist to compare them to. Serena’s voice and style is rather unique, and the only artist who she could be even loosely compared to would be the vocals of Macy Gray. That is, if you took Macy to Tennessee and put a guitar in her hand."
The Bluegrass Special
by: David McGee
Here you may check out an in depth interview by legendary music journalist David McGee (Rolling Stone magazine)
It's very long and detailed, so if you're not in the mood to read a big bunch of stuff about me, then don't click below. (If you DO want to read it, then click the magazine cover below and then click, obviously, "Who is Serena Matthews?"
To be in the same issue with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers completely blows my mind. Thank you, David McGee!
"Matthews, singing in a searching, haunting, little girl’s voice with the slightest of a blues drawl and accompanying herself with rudimentary, spare, acoustic guitar atmospherics, may well be the female Nick Drake."
"Oh that voice! This is where she really shines. A unique, sultry, baby-doll voice that holds the listener to the song and makes you want to have another listen. Her lyrics are heartfelt and well done, but it didn't matter what she was saying."
(March 25, 2010)
"This is Thursday Dawn by Serena Matthews "
I have been a fan of Serena Matthews for a couple of years now and I run across her now and then online, hell we even chat now and then on twitter. But sometimes I need to step back and remember that she does make some of the most fragile and aching songs. All with a pixie voice that belies the depth that is Serena Matthews. I am not going to make comparisons and say “RIYL” and such – just listen and enjoy her for the amazing talent that she is. I was recently reminded when I listened to her latest release “Staircase” after work one day to unwind. Those songs can wash away almost anything and come recommended.
"Serena Matthews has the lyrical prowess of Cohen and the musical sensibilities of Beth Orton. I cannot put into words just how captivating Serena's vocals are (and believe me, I tried)." The unique angelic voice is a wonderful hook for any song, and is highly effective in keeping the attention of the listener."
"A truly gifted songwriter with a sound all her own, Serena draws her strength from powerful lyrics and a voice of an angel that overwhelmingly moved me.. Serena speaks from the heart, and to the heart, singing songs about life and creating poetic imagery through her lyrics. Mild use of effects like reverb and echo in the right places casts an especially haunting and dreamy portrait for the listener. Dreams for the Broken gets a strong recommendation from me as a CD that songwriters can learn from."
- Soul City Cafe (Jewel)
"Hailing from Tennessee, Serena has cultivated a talent for songwriting, and a sweet, smoky voice that's both wistful and hopeful."