Big Inner

On the cover of his debut album, Matthew E. White rocks a white suit he might have borrowed from 1970 Eric Clapton and a mane/ beard combo he might have borrowed from 1975 Bob Seger. Inside, the laid-back sounds of the Seventies have rarely been this laid-back: Lazily swelling Randy Newman orchestrations and hippie-gospel choirs coil around the sleepiest Allen Toussaint grooves, as White, who's from Richmond, Virginia, soul-mumbles about the power of the Lord (the nine-minute "Brazos"), randomly quotes Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" ("Will You Love Me") and turns in a resplendently somnolent funk workout ("Big Love"). It's sometimes silly but also undeniably soothing: The bone-warming "Hot Toddies" leaves you feeling like you just had six of them.

Listen to "Big Love":

From The Archives Issue 1164: August 30, 2012