Matthew E. White At The Button Factory – Review
Matthew E. White brought his soul and RnB train to the Button Factory this week with a back to basics three piece band. Noted for their absence the lack of keys, gospel singers and horn section. However, forgoing the musical frivolities that make his studio work so richly textured and compelling, White was on form, with warm regard for song and audience alike.
Introducing a subdued opener, smooth electric guitar with reverb sets the tone. Soft as silk, White’s deep voice resounds, hushed and whispering as ‘Tranquility’, from 2015’s Fresh Blood, beats into being. A reserved but serene solo start, with band dropping in atmospherically at the outro.
‘Vision’ begins with uplifting lyrics, ‘nobody in this world is better than us’, swinging soul turning to perfect pop as fat bass burrows deep in the chorus, ticking drums tapping along. In place of excess instrumentation, the musicians’ display due attention to dynamics, deftly weaving a fine, measured performance on ‘One of These Days’ smooth and slick, especially sweet at the chorus.
Drums set a fast and frantic pace for ‘Big Love’, stand out track from debut release Big Inner, its tasty thrust infectious as guitar growls in the middle. Fleshed out with meaty jams and spacey electric guitar chops, White intones ‘I think I can trust you about as far as I can throw you and I’m moving on’, a firm and certain lyrical air, paralleling the strong swagger and attitude of the track.
Slide guitar solo sings during the slow, introspective gospel tones of ‘Circle ‘Round the Sun’, whilst White’s whispered falsetto pierces ‘Take Care My Baby’, a warm love song that burns with passionate energy. ‘Fruit Trees’ hits hard at the start with big drums and shouted backing vocals, dynamic playing taking the place strings and horns inhabit on the studio version. The brash opening turns to an atmospheric ethereal verse then bounces back to heavy hitting funk at the chorus.
Near the end, drum and bass intro grooves set the pace for ‘Rock & Roll is Cold’ an upbeat fun frolic that marches towards the conclusion, a blues infused solo encore, band rejoining halfway through as cymbals splash and wash, crunchy guitars crackle and compete to close the show.
Missing the intensity and sweet soul caress of his finely crafted studio albums, Matthew E. White solidly recreates his aesthetic with aplomb, without horns to help or strings to sing, succeeding in his step, a testament to his songs and their structure that they work without all the lush, expansive add-ons.