Portsmouth songwriter puts mental health in the spotlight with support for city charity Tonic Music for Mental Health

Portsmouth singer-songwriter Matthew Harrison, who is holding a gig for mental health charity Tonic'Picture: Reece Armstrong // Instagram account - @thearmstrongproductions
Portsmouth singer-songwriter Matthew Harrison, who is holding a gig for mental health charity Tonic'Picture: Reece Armstrong // Instagram account - @thearmstrongproductions
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A FOLK singer is putting mental health issues in the spotlight as part of an awareness-raising campaign around the release of his new solo album.

Matthew Harrison has been playing in and around Portsmouth for more than a decade, most recently in a country band called Hometown Show. 

Now he has put together a solo record called Somewhere in the Wildwood, which will be launched next month at the Wave Maiden in Osborne Road, Southsea.

The launch event is being run with Tonic Music for Mental Health, a Portsmouth charity which uses music and arts events to help people with their mental health.

Matthew connected with Tonic some months ago after feeling low himself saying it was now important to 'talk more openly about my mental health'.

Matthew said: ‘Somewhere in the Wildwood is a reference to mental health – a wildwood is an area of the forest which has been able to grow freely and wildly and I often see depression as just that, a thick dense forest and somewhere within that are the things you’re looking for. I have been dealing with mental health and depression and it reached a crescendo in the last couple of months. The album is a raw version of me.’

To combat his mental health issues, Matthew started to write his own music which he says has been an 'amazing healer'. 

Matthew says meeting a Tonic representative was a powerful moment where he was able to have a frank discussion – and led to setting up the concert for the charity. 

Matthew is inspired by Bon Iver, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Iron and Wine.

He added: ‘Particularly The Tallest Man on Earth – when I discovered his music I think it was a catalyst for change in the way I viewed music in relation to mental health, it felt like a healer listening to his music and that's when I really understood how medicinal music can be.’

The launch night is on Friday, November 8, at the Wave Maiden at 7.30pm. Entry is £2, with support from Megan Linford and Me & The Moon. 

Tonic will be at the event with an information stand and collection boxes.