“It’s a mix of the personal and the polished,” Matthew E. White told SPIN’s David Marchese recently, describing his lavishly arranged yet intimately sung solo debut, Big Inner (originally out on Hometapes/Spacebomb and now getting an international release via Domino).
The video for the patiently soaring, orchestra-bedecked come-on “Will You Love Me,” posted yesterday by Pitchfork, embodies this Richmond, Virginia-based singer, songwriter, and arranger’s fundamental paradox to an almost absurd degree. The stately strings and horns suggest a lost ’70s soul jam that ought to be sampled by a brilliant rapper and played at weddings, but White’s whispery croon bares its soul in his own quiet way, its gentle understatement matching his powerfully plainspoken lyrics: “I’ll be there till the morning light / And longer if you need,” White sighs.
The video, too, is immaculately constructed and yet modest enough to deflect attention from its constructedness, focusing on White — bearded and bespectacled, wearing his signature white suit — as he sings the song in various homey settings. Sometimes what’s most personal is also the most potentially universal. The only answer Matthew should get to this song’s central question is “yes.”