Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White"Gentlewoman, Ruby Man"
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White have combined to make an album that despite being composed purely of covers ends up showing a level of originality and quality production that most new releases could even dream to have
Covering a song and putting your own unique style on it so it doesn’t just end up sounding cheap and unnecessary is definitely one of the hardest challenges in music, just look at the amount of memorable Live Lounge covers compared to the hundreds that get released on the radio each year, so imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this delight of an album which is full of stunning covers, each one sounding like a Flo and Matthew original.
The circumstances in which these two found each other is definitely extraordinary, after Matthew saw his album reviewed in the guardian alongside Flo’s which was also highly praised, he sought her out with a view to record some music together, this fantastic album is the result.
Opening with Little Wings “Look At What The Light Did Now” which has been completely transformed into an upbeat 60/70’s pop styled song with call and response styled verses between Flo and Matt, it’s a beautiful introduction to the pairs unique vocal styles, Matt’s delicate and rugged lower pitches intertwined with Flo’s very smooth, high pitched vocals, on paper it shouldn’t work but on record it does masterfully.
“Thinking About You” see’s the duo tackle Frank Ocean an artist who’s own very skilled voice allows him to hit deep low’s and very high pitched choruses, this in turn is a perfect match for the pair allowing Matt to lay down the verses with Flo coming in with that iconic “I don’t think so faaaaar ahead” it’s a very hypnotic cover.
“Looking For You” is a more traditional cover, it’s very similar to the original duet from the 70’s and work’s well and see’s Flo taking more of a lead in the vocals with Matt’s working like whispers in the background, “The Colour In Anything” see’s Flo tackle James Blake’s most recent release in a cover which ends up sounding like a retro throwback to a lounge singer, it’s definitely a compliment as the style really suits the track and Flo’s vocals.
The album definitely peaks with the fantastic pairing of “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” and “Grease”, the former with those iconic keys and chorus that transports you to a sun filled paradise in your mind, it’s a classic song and the pair really do it justice. “Grease” show’s Matt and Flo can really do the impossible, originally a very genetically cheesy song wrote by (Bee Gee) Barry Gibb and recorded by Frankie Valli it has been dramatically changed into a stunning love song, slightly lower tempo and styled as a duet between Flo and Matt exchanging verses, oh and that chorus really is everything, just wait to you hear Flo and Matt hit that “This a life of illusion” line.
“Suzanne” is a fitting tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, Matt takes the rein and his dark vocals somehow make the track even more sombre than the original, Flo’s backing vocals during the chorus are haunting, sending chills down your spine. “Sunday Morning” and “Heaven Can Wait” see the album take a rockier and edgier turn, it shows real diversity and that the pairing can really switch it up with Flo going for a more grungier, pop punk sound. If you want things really changed up look no further than final track “Govindam” which see’s Flo tackling a completely different language.
For me “Gentlewoman, Ruby Man” has really set the bar for music to be released this year, the unlikely pairing of Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White have made these selection of covers sound completely unique, you won’t find yourself going back to the originals anytime soon, I really hope this isn’t just a one-off and can’t wait to see what these two have up their collective sleeves in the future.