The album harkens back to the days of soulful R&B compositions in the mold of Isaac Hayes or David Axelrod. Strings, horns and backup singers deliver a lively and sweeping texture but the songs never feel cramped because White gives them time and space to roam. The music moves through and around you, but it never knocks you over.
The sound on “Fresh Blood” was created with White’s team of musicians from Spacebomb Records, the label he founded in Richmond, Virginia. It was developed in the same vein as Motown or Stax, complete with an in-house crew of musicians and producers, a unique and talented crew which gracefully executes White’s vision.
One of the album’s standout tracks, “Rock & Roll Is Cold,” VIDEO certainly doesn’t sound like anything else being released today. It opens to a chorus of “Oh la la’s” before a delightfully catchy piano picks up a gospel-rock groove. White’s voice is like late-afternoon sunshine, soft yet vibrant, and it molds well with the light and steady rhythm of the song. It could stand in for Canned Heat’s “Going to the Country” in the montage of festivalgoers arriving at Woodstock in the seminal concert film.
White is a brilliant composer who can take two competing entities and harmoniously blend them together. The brooding verses in “Vision” perfectly segue into the choral sparkle of the chorus in White’s tale of ideal love. “Fruit Trees” bobs back and forth from a contemplative piano number to an R&B disco beat without muddying the waters. He follows the energy of the Elton John-like “Everything Good Is Good Enough” with the ethereal “Tranquility.” White knows how to charm someone to get up and dance in the sunshine and then lay them down to sleep in the grass.
“Fresh Blood” is a captivating album that makes vintage sounds feel fresh. Matthew E. White is confident in his musical vision and it is hard to deny it.
Matthew E. White
Release, March 10, 2015
Notable Tracks: “Rock & Roll Is Cold,” “Vision,” “Fruit Trees”