These days, it’s not easy being an honest-to-goodness soul man, having to put up with suspicions of irony and authenticity to do what you do. But what makes Matthew E. White the real deal is that he’s reverent and original at the same time, respecting time-honored traditions while also giving them a twist in his own individual way. Building on his 2012 breakthrough, “Big Inner,” White’s new album, “Fresh Blood,” offers just what its title announces, capturing the eternal verities of love through imagery and metaphors too vivid and novel to be a rote recitation of anything else.
While “Fresh Blood” sounds grand, with its immaculate production and compositions bursting at the seams with resonant strings, ringing piano chords, and resourceful orchestration, it grabs at you because its sentiment feels so immediate, as if the expansive soundscapes were mining a deep, deep soul. What’s more, the way these explorations flourish can take unexpected turns, as White moves fluidly on “Fresh Blood” from R&B symphonics and gospel gregariousness to Bacharach-esque pop and even artsy play – just check out the moody undertones of “Tranquility” from the album teaser. Above all, you can feel how these combinations and permutations come from White’s heart, which is what makes “Fresh Blood” genuinely its own thing.
Matthew E. White