Before he became a frontman, Matthew E. White cut his teeth as a jazz composer and arranger. Although his solo records are adamantly anti-avant-garde, they nevertheless speak to these pronounced structural strengths. This is especially true of Fresh Blood, the 2015 album designed as a deeper, richer, sleeker sequel to his 2012 debut, Big Inner. White doesn't swap styles on Fresh Blood, choosing to stick with the Southern soul and hazy Laurel Canyon pop heard not only on Big Inner but on his stellar work for Natalie Prass' 2015 debut. His touch is assured, even seductive. Fresh Blood marches forth at a deliberate pace, its arrangements dripping strings, horns, and backing vocals, a tapestry so smooth and enveloping that it's little wonder White fades away in its honeyed contours. Then again, as a singer/songwriter, Matthew E. White isn't exactly a forceful presence. He may be physically big but he has a gentle, precise voice that always plays as another element in his arrangements, never drawing attention to what his songs actually say. As Fresh Blood is somewhat more lyrically ambitious than its predecessor -- "Tranquility" is written for the late actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, "Holy Moly" is about abuse -- this is theoretically problematic, but in practice the languid procession of sweet, Southern-fried singer/songwriter classicisms is alluring. With a sound so luscious, Fresh Blood is hard to resist, and if it doesn't quite offer the lasting sustenance it presumes, it nevertheless tastes mighty fine.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: The Spacebomb House Band