Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White (photo courtesy of Glassnote Records, PR)
Gentlewoman, Ruby Man
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White
The album Gentlewoman, Ruby Man stems from a new musical collaboration between British singer and songwriter Flo Morrissey and American singer, songwriter, and producer Matthew E. White.
Morrissey, a London native, released her solo debut in 2015, Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful. White, a native of Richmond, Virginia, is the founder of Spacebomb Records, which has grown into the Spacebomb Group, an organization that includes the record label, a recording studio, music producing and publishing. In addition to his work behind the scenes with Spacebomb, White is also an artist in his own right, with two solo albums, 2012’s Big Inner and 2015’s Fresh Blood. He also works with the improvisatory jazz ensemble, Fight The Big Bull.
Morrissey and White first met in 2015 at a Lee Hazelwood tribute show in London. They sang the Hazelwood composition “Some Velvet Morning” together, a duet that was originally recorded by Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra in 1967. With that performance, the seeds for their future collaboration were planted.
The two artists mapped out plans for their musical adventure and the idea of a duets record came about—one that could be akin to the pairing of Sinatra and Hazelwood. From there, the project became a covers album, with both artists exchanging songs for consideration.
The eclectic song selection on Gentlewoman, Ruby Man mirrors the unique partnership that Morrissey and White have created. Their different vocal qualities complement each other and so do the diverse songs that were chosen. Ten songs (and covers) made the album’s final cut, with songwriters as far-flung as Frank Ocean, James Blake, Lou Reed and John Cale, Roy Ayers, Barry Gibb, Leonard Cohen and Beck. All of the tunes are restructured as duets and bear the signature markings of a Spacebomb and Matthew E. White production: impeccably played and produced, with an inviting soul-meets-R and B retro quality. Gentlewoman, Ruby Man is the ideal soundtrack for a warm spring day.
Morrissey, White and the Spacebomb crew approach on this album illustrates how a diverse collection of songs, originated in completely different settings, can be brought together to complement and enhance each other. “Thinkin Bout You,” from pop and hip-hop artist Frank Ocean (the original is found on 2012's Channel Orange), sets up nicely alongside “Looking For You,” a melodramatic ode from 1974 written by the late Italian-French singer songwriter, Nino Ferrer (originally performed by Ferrer with Radiah Frye). Roy Ayers’ jazzy and soulful funk masterpiece “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” (recorded by the Roy Ayers Ubiquity), is the perfect vehicle for the Spacebomb crew, so it’s no surprise that the song sits as the centerpiece of the album.
The spirited nature of Gentlewoman, Ruby Man is on full display, most notably when an iconic pop song like 1978's “Grease,” written by Barry Gibb and originally performed by Frankie Valli for the film of the same name, is placed up against Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne,” the Velvet Underground and Nico’s “Sunday Morning” and “Heaven Can Wait,” written by Beck for Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Perhaps the most interesting selection covered on the album is “Govindam,” Morrissey and White’s interpretation of “Govinda,” a Hindu mantra that was recorded by the United Kingdom chapter of the Radha Krishna Temple, under the guidance of George Harrison, and released in 1970 on Apple Records.
On Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White effectively merge their talents with the support of White’s Spacebomb collective and conjure a lush and inventive celebration of covers and collaboration.