matthewEwhite

For a while now, Matthew E. White has been going about his work with a quiet confidence. Diligently, and without fanfare, he’s been sculpting a distinctive sound, forming a movement of approximately one in reprising Gamble and Huff’s classic brand of Philadelphia funk-infused soul for a 21st century audience. White’s strength – and the attribute that has conversely kept him from registering on the mainstream radar – is his subtlety, last seen on his genuinely acclaimed 2012 debut album ‘Big Inner’. The leaves of his songs unfurl gradually, morphing with a restrained grace so that by the time you arrive at their euphoric climaxes you wonder how on earth you got there.

From opener ‘Take Care My Baby’, with its stabs of violins and underpinning of sumptuous brass, White always feels in control; his gentle, whispered vocal somehow managing to hold firm in the eye of the funk storm. But there is also a deceptive diversity to the songs on ‘Fresh Blood’ and that’s the key to its success. It’s easy to discard White as a 70s soul throwback but throughout he touches on a range that includes blues, smooth jazz, folk and fully-fledged classic rock. ‘Fruit Trees’, for example, shifts seamlessly back and forth between lush RnB and out-and-out Average White Band funk while the menacing ‘Holy Moly’ does California Rock as well as The Eagles ever did. Labels aside, however, ‘Fresh Blood’ is a joyously melodic journey.

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