Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White – Gentlewoman, Ruby Man (Liberator Music/Glassnote Records)


From Frank Ocean to Leonard Cohen, from James Blake to the Velvet Underground, Flo and Matt certainly cover some musical ground in this intriguing and satisfying collection of covers.

Flo Morrissey is a 22-year-old British folk singer. Matthew E. White is a 34-year-old Americana/jazz artist from Virginia.

These two initially got together in 2015, singing Some Velvet Morning at a Lee Hazelwood tribute in London. There was chemistry…and so we have 10 seemingly randomly-chosen songs all joined together by that same chemistry.

The album was produced by White, recorded at his Spacebomb Studio in Virginia, using his house band. The overall feel is that of 1970’s r&b, with a southern accent…Muscle Shoals via Memphis.

Little Wings’ Look What The Light Did Now is the first track and it is a perfect representation of why this record is so good.

Flo and Matthew trade verses, each voice complimenting the other, and they harmonize delicately during the chorus. That 70’s soul vibe with its Eddie Hinton-style guitar licks fits the song perfectly, actually improving upon the original.

This same treatment is applied to Frank Ocean’s Thinking ‘Bout You. Flo’s double-tracked voice virtually floats over the music.

The duo mines the 1970s with a couple of relative obscurities…French/Italian singer/songwriter Nino Ferrer’s Looking For You and Roy Ayers’ Everybody Loves The Sunshine. Both versions remain faithful to the originals while adding something a little something special.

Even James Blake’s cloying The Colour In Anything is listenable when these two get ahold of it.

The second half of the album takes on some fairly iconic tunes, again from very different styles.

They go from Grease (Barry Gibb) to Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) to Sunday Morning (Lou Reed/John Cale) without missing a beat.

Grease is given a casual, lazy beat, Suzanne a strange, electronic loop and Sunday Morning a big, Phil Spector-ish wall of sound, yet it all works thanks to the two vocalists.

After Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Heaven Can Wait, the album holds one more surprise…George Harrison’s Govindam, a 6-minute Hindu devotional song he recorded back in 1969 with the London Radha-Krishna Temple.

On paper, this album should be a mess…but in reality it is a surprisingly cohesive collection of songs that wouldn’t seem to co-exist with one another.

Marty Duda

Gentlewoman, Ruby Man is released Friday, January 13th