CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story said Matthew E. White was born in the Philippines and raised in Richmond, Va. in the 1970s. White was not born in the Philippines and was raised in the Philippines and Virginia in the 1980s. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Compositional mastery and easy-going retro style complement each other in Matthew E. White’s Big Inner, a genre-bending album that struggles to reconcile spirituality and mortality.
White’s sources of inspiration are eclectic; he was raised in the Philippines and Richmond, Va. in the 1980s. While this cultural combo sounds like it could be either fatally bizarre or remarkably cool for someone venturing into music, White pulls off the latter with his debut release.
The miniature orchestra that White uses throughout the album’s seven tracks shares the spotlight with his voice. Contributing instrumentalists include Megafaun’s Phil Cook and Bon Iver’s Reggie Pace, and influence from both bands is tangible. Horns and strings are prevalent and bring romance to each hymn-like song.
Instrumentation, expert arrangements and lyrical content make White’s lackluster voice — his only potential weak spot — sound less so.