CHATHAM, NJ - The emotions had been packed in so tight that it only took a half-hour for Jacob Mathews to let them out when he wrote one of his favorite songs, "Safe and Sound."
The 15-year-old Chatham High student has produced two albums totaling 15 songs in the "Music Room" located in the basement of his Chatham Township home and all of them have come from personal experiences.
"That's the thing about writing music, you're like an open book," Mathews said.
Mathews will be sharing other chapters of his life on Tuesday night, Aug. 6 when he performs at Chatham Borough's first-ever National Night Out event at Memorial Park behind the Chatham Library. He's scheduled to play at 6 p.m.
"I like to spread the music," Mathews said. "I'm the free artist for hire - even when I'm paid, I'm not paid that much. I've never played in a town event before so I'm excited. Usually, I'm focused on getting people to know that I'm playing. This time I'm just concentrating on the music."
Jacob Mathews plays the guitar in the "Music Room" at his home in Chatham Township. He's saving his voice for National Night Out concert.
Mathews credits his father, Bruce, for the start of his love for music, teaching him how to play the guitar when he was seven.
"He got this book and every night we flipped through it and learned different things," Mathews said. "I didn't start to write songs until I was in eighth grade."
"Safe and Sound" is about his acclimation to Chatham High during his freshman year and is on his album "Stamps for Good" that can be found through Apple Music and Spotify. His latest album is "A Fool's Paradise" which features the song "Summer of 19."
"It doesn't take me long to write a song, but it does take me time to find the experiences to write the song," he said. "The first one my parents really liked was Safe and Sound. They're my biggest critics and my biggest fans. They help me improve my songs. the first one that they really liked took a half an hour to write. I tried to change my sound up on the second album."
Mathews honed his songwriting skills while attending SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) camp last summer. The camp also helped him learn how to collaborate with other artists.
Mathews first started to perform in public at Temple Sinai in Summit, where he is part of the service there twice a month.
"They kind of put me into the service," he said. "My brother (Justin) plays the bongos and my father plays the bass and they call us the Mathews Trio."