FEATURE image: Matthew E. White and Flo Morrissey. “Love and Other Crimes: The Song of Lee Hazlewood – Matthew E White & Flo Morrissey” by p_a_h is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Richmond, Virginia-based producer and musician Matthew White first learned about English singer-ongwriter Flo Morrissey from an article about her on The Guardian website. They met at a music event in London in October 2015.
The two international artists were signed to different record labels, but found out they had musical interests in common and that they worked well together. Morrissey and White discovered, for instance, that they both liked recording cover versions of great songs, especially ones that were personally resonating. As young performers they liked that they could hone their vocal performances and work with production values using these others’ time-honored musical compositions. They were also excited to introduce these songs to a new generation of listeners by way of their contemporary versions.
Morrissey (b. 1994) and White (b. 1982) teamed up for a collaborative full duet album of ten cover songs called Gentlewoman, Ruby Man. Recorded in 2016, the album was released in January 2017 on Glassnote Records.
Following months of preparation, the cover songs were selected from a wide range of musical artists and recorded in 10 days in downtown Richmond at the studios of Spacebomb Records, a label founded by White in 2011.
The album’s first track is their cover version of Little Wings’ Look At What The Light Did Now. Little Wings is a band founded in the late 1990’s in San Luis Obispo, California, by Alabama-born indie rocker Kyle Field (b. 1972). The original Little Wings version of the song is a vocal duet with acoustic guitar released in 2002. The song received limited reviews at the time though they were mostly positive.
Gentlewoman, Ruby Man tracklist:
1. Look At What The Light Did Now (Little Wings Cover)
2. Thinking ‘Bout You (Frank Ocean Cover)
3. Looking For You (Nino Ferrer Cover)
4. Color Of Anything (James Blake Cover)
5. Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Roy Ayers Cover)
6. Grease (Bee Gees Cover)
7. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen Cover)
8. Sunday Morning (Velvet Underground Cover)
9. Heaven Can Wait (Charlotte Gainsbourg Cover)
10. Govindam (George Harrison Cover)
They started to compile a list on Spotify of around 500 songs. From there, they whittled the list down to just ten songs. Morrissey and White discovered that the songs they ultimately selected weren’t necessarily compositions they expected to do going into the project. Chosen material that surprised them included newer compositions and songs that extended into genres such as R&B.
As planned, the indie rock production featured 10 songs from a diverse group of musical artists. These included Leonard Cohen, Frank Ocean, the Bee Gees, and James Blake.