Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White – Gentlewoman, Ruby Man
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White have joined forces for a very special collaboration in the shape of Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, a new album set for release on 13th January 2017 via Glassnote Records. The English singer songwriter and US-based artist, songwriter and producer made the album together at Spacembomb, in Richmond, Virginia, a collection of their own takes on a selection of favourite songs by artists as diverse as Frank Ocean, The Bee Gees, James Blake, Roy Ayers and Leonard Cohen. The first of these, Little Wings’ Look At What The Light Did, is revealed today, along with a short film about the making of the album and how it came to be…
Morrissey and White first met in person at a Lee Hazelwood tribute at the Barbican in the autumn of 2015. They sang Some Velvet Morning, solidified a correspondence into a friendship and discussed a desire to work together in the near future. That desire grew into Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, in some ways a straightforward duets record, of a kind that has fallen out of fashion: two separate entities meeting to record a collection of great songs as a one-off, Marvin & Tammi-style. In other ways it’s a more unique beast: less typical back and forth duets, more subtle and complimentary spotlight sharing. It’s a small miracle and a testament to the hard work and natural chemistry of these two artists that they were able to pull it off, finding each other and collaborating on a project of this kind across the ocean.Both Morrissey and White seem destined to travel beyond genre, although they have explored more definable traditions in earlier releases. Morrissey’s Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful (2015) is an honest and beatific affair, a refreshing outlier in a resurging field of folk rock that had fallen into glossy commercialism. White’s stunning debut Big Inner (2012) and its follow-up Fresh Blood (2015) are two southern soul journeys, engaging and idiosyncratic statements crafted at Spacebomb with the Spacebomb House Band. Gentlewoman, Ruby Man is more difficult to categorize, closing with a leftfield, but utterly sublime chant to Lord Krishna. The fact that it actually works signals what kind of a special universe this project exists in.
White’s production takes cues from the touchstones of tape that have become recording canon, he flourishes under a benevolent regime of preparation and in-the-moment respect for the musician’s intuition. Flo’s ethereal voice, meanwhile, timeless to begin with, has matured and strengthened, bringing a richness and magical core to everything it touches, and she really sings the night out. White’s honeydrop vocal caresses offer a complimentary texture or prowl in the lead.
These are big songs tackled with zero insecurity and ego, the band fiery and tight, taking the pressure and throwing away conventionality. An album of covers could have slipped into mindless eclecticism, commercial efforts at popularity or crate digging cred, but White and Morrissey simply picked good, sometimes unexpected songs that they love and feel connected to, from Grease (1978), to a spine-tingling take on the title track from James Blake’s The Colour In Anything (2016). Ten tracks that will feed the heart and move the body.
1. Look At What The Light Did (Little Wings cover)
2. Thinking ‘Bout You (Frank Ocean cover)
3. Looking For You (Nino Ferrer cover)
4. Colour Of Anything (James Blake cover)
5. Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Roy Ayers cover)
6. Grease (Bee Gees cover)
7. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen cover)
8. Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground cover)
9. Heaven Can Wait (Charlotte Gainsbourg cover)
10. Govindam (George Harrison cover)