Matthew E. White’s Big Inner is a fairly incredible thing. Trying to sum it up in words seems a futile exercise. Part soul, part country, part jazz, part gospel, part… you get the idea. It comes from a man who arrives from a childhood split between Virginia Beach and Manila, but may as well have arrived from a different world all together.
The notion that it is a debut album seems vaguely ridiculous. Then again, so does the idea that there might be any feasible way to follow it up (not that we wish, even for a moment, that he does not try). It seems to stand apart, a fully-formed statement of a man, a man who has come from a unique place and has made a unique album.
A jazz arranger by trade, White is accompanied by a group known as the Spacebomb House Band. Yes, that’s right. The Spacebomb House Band. It’s a stupendous name for a sublime-sounding group. From the moment ‘One of These Days’ begins, they carry you away. White croons in a manner that is as seductive as it’s possible for me to imagine a long-haired, bearded man being.
But it’s only the beginning of the journey. White travels through musical genres like they are galaxies to be explored. After the slow-burning opener, ‘Big Love’ erupts like a primal scream. The funky ‘Steady Pace’ sounds like a southern gentleman trying to cover the Beta Band, and maybe it is. It certainly works. The 10-minute closer ‘Brazos’ will simply blow you away.
Big Inner is only seven songs long. It was apparently recorded in just seven days. And yet it feels like it will take years for its mysteries to fully unravel.