THEY may at first somewhat unlikely bedfellows: Matthew E. White, who arrived back in 2011 with his debut album The Big Inner, seemingly a fully formed gentleman of classic Southern Americana; and Lonnie Holley, the scrap sculptor who released his debut set of free-flowing outsider funk, Just Before Music, at the age of 62 in 2012.
Bu the time is ripe for the two to forge ahead with an album together, a self-styled ‘avant-garde southern folk record’, combining White’s compositions with Holley’s lyrics and vocals and entitled Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection.
The album will be released on April 9th through the joint offices of Spacebomb and Jagjaguwar. Need a taste of a deep, wild, sprawling groove of a record? Check out “This Here Jungle of Moderness/Composition 14” below.
There’s a whole lot of depth going on; sprawling electronic bass pulses, loose and hipswingin’ percussion, Southern blues-funk licks, staccato keyboards, Lonnie letting it flow lyrically. Go with it; if you were lucky enough to catch Lonnie’s set at End of the Road in 2019, you’ll know he takes you to a hypnotic and very personal musical space.
But just how did such a collaboration come about?
Turns out that back in November 2018, Matthew E. White wished to refresh his approach to songwriting. Already deep into sessions for a follow up to 2015’s Fresh Blood, he assembled seven trusted musicians and led them through a series of loose improvisations in the tradition of Electric Miles. A tight-ass rhythm section provided a solid base from which to spring forth in a cosmic looseness. They were excellent; but what to do with them now?
Well, the pair actually share deep Alabama roots: Holley was born in Birmingham, while much of White’s family remains just south of the city, And one night in April 2019 Matthew was part of a pickup band that backed Lonnie for a stunning gig in Richmond, Virginia capital – completely unrehearsed; “One of the best shows I’ll ever do, so dialed in,” Matthew recalled.
Lonnie saw that it was good, too, and invited White to another show in North Carolina – at which point, lightbulb moment; Matthew dusted down that shelved jamming session. He wanted Holley to run with them.
The day after that the North Carolina gig, Lonnie sat with the jams, and pretty much conjured his lyrical trip straight out in one four-hour session. Signed, sealed, delivered.
And there you have it; make space on your shelves for one of the year’s deepest two-handers, a masterful melange of outfolk and funk and more.
Matthew E. White and Lonnie Hollie’s Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection will be released by Spacebomb/Jagjaguwar digitally and on CD and vinyl on April 9th; it’s available to pre-order now, here. There’s also various merch bundles available.
Follow Matthew E. White at his website and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and Lonnie Holley at his website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.