Matthew E. White – Big Inner
As well as being the debut album from Richmond, Virginia’s Matthew E White, Big Inner is the vanguard release from Spacebomb, White’s Stax-and-Blue-Note inspired production house. Brought to wax by the nascent studio’s generously-proportioned house band, these seven heavenly slices of country soul unfold with leisurely precision, with horns, strings, keys and guitars folded through White’s delicate baritone.
There are hints of Lambchop circa Nixon in the instrumental interplay and bittersweet air, while Jason Pierce’s gospel blues are echoed in Big Love’s lifting choir. But for the most part, White recalls an earlier songwriting vintage, with opener One of These Days unfurling smoothly like an old spiritual, and the warm chorus of Steady Pace displaying White’s self-confessed and oft-noted affinity with seventies storytellers in the Randy Newman mould. Both indebted to and reflective on its patrimonial past, this is the kind of debut on which devotional followings are founded.