Matthew E. White
Matthew E. White had intended for 2012’s Big Inner to lure musicians to Spacebomb—his Richmond, Virginia, studio—in search of the sound captured within. And while it has fulfilled its original purpose, the singer-songwriter turned out to be just as compelling a figure behind the mic as he is behind the boards. The grooves of White’s cosmopolitan soul songs gave him enough space to weigh God and the cosmos on Big Inner, but Fresh Blood is a sharper, more confident record. He leads his band through the panting “Fruit Trees” in a lusty exhale, then reverently follows the curve of every letter in the gilt-edged “Circle ’Round the Sun.” Strings and carefully guided feedback cloud the ceiling of “Tranquility,” written for Philip Seymour Hoffman after the actor’s death, and White strings his voice from bar to bar. “I rid my heart of all that resists tranquility,” he sings, and it’s beautiful, tragic, and so much more complicated than it seems.