FUV's New Dig: Matthew E. White
Matthew E. White
Singer, songwriter and producer Matthew E. White has worn many eclectic musical hats in his brief career, ranging from record company executive (his own Spacebomb Records) to bandleader of an improvisatory jazz band, Fight the Big Bull. But it's White's solo work that has brought him the most widespread acclaim, beginning with his solo debut, 2012's Big Inner, and now his sophomore effort, Fresh Blood. It's a bold, polished album that manages to be both subtle and sweeping in scope.
White's hushed vocals are at the heart of the album’s ten songs, fluctuating from a deep whisper to a soulful moan. “Take Care My Baby," which kicks off Fresh Blood, starts quietly but builds, becoming a minor soul epic complete with strings, horns and female harmonies. The track conjures memories of Isaac Hayes-style cool or Al Green's passion, but it has White's warm vibe, as relaxed as a lazy Sunday in bed. It’s that effortless soulfulness that permeates Fresh Blood.
There are very low-key passages, like the opening of “Holy Moly," but these usually escalate into controlled, almost measured, crescendos. “Circle ‘Round The Sun” is an easy-flowing and soulful gospel number while the album's first single, “Rock And Roll Is Cold,” is a carefree rock shuffle.
“Feeling Good Is Good Enough” and “Vision” build to epic-like heights without becoming bombastic. Fresh Blood's most serious moment comes in the haunting melancholy of “Tranquility," an homage to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. The song is a beautifully orchestrated ode that is briefly punctuated by guitar feedback, a nod to White's more avant-garde projects.
Matthew E. White possesses a great love for, and a strong understanding of, classic soul. Coupling this affinity with his strengths as a producer and arranger results in a dynamic combination that is in full bloom on Fresh Blood.