Innovation is what many artists aspire towards when presenting new material to excite the masses, but there's a definite charm to be found in songwriters willing to risk treading the line between 'nostalgia' and 'rip-off' in the search of something that'll catch the world's attention. While not always completely successful, those that do can reveal an honest character in themselves. It's a notion of refusal to pander to those cracking the whip, instead approaching creativity in a way that aims to please the initiated rather than shock the unsuspecting. However that's precisely what's so exciting and successful about Matthew E. White's debut album Big Inner; it's totally unafraid to recall tried & trusted musical styles and creative processes that many in trendy modern circles may dismiss as old practice.

The songs are conjured up collaboratively between White and various associates, with the arrangements filled out by Spacebomb Records' own house band and recorded in the Spacebomb studio space above White's house. It's a somewhat downsized take on a Brill Building style process and it brings about the first signs of nostalgic practice, a sense that increasingly shines as the album progresses.

Opener 'One Of These Days' sets the mellow, soulful tone of the majority of the record. Tranquil vocal hooks sung barely above a whisper are punctuated by warm horns and smooth guitar lines over a calm, steady drum beat. This smoky, chilled vibe is a prominent theme throughout, although 'Big Love' does change the feel momentarily with the character of a psychedelic soul-funk jam, featuring beats & piano stabs reminiscent of many a Steely Dan track. In fact all across the album are clues to White's musical influences. Shades of soul legends such as Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye creep into some of the arrangements, but a soft Americana twist is maintained throughout by the peaceful tones of the vocals. Elsewhere the piano style on 'Steady Pace' serves up a bluesey rock 'n' roll spirit akin to Fats Domino in between an infectious chorus and unison runs from the bass & guitar holding up the verses. The last two songs, 'Hot Toddies' and 'Brazos', both open with orchestral arrangements that wouldn't sound amiss during a sombre number in an early Disney film but both grow into memorable looping choruses and abrupt breakdowns. 'Brazos' in particular serves as a perfect final track with many hallmarks of a classic closing number - comparatively powerful orchestral backing, plenty of unrestrained drum fills and a gospel choir responding to White's refrains of "Take it easy baby/take it easy baby tonight" all adding to the sense of a grand finale. After another breakdown the song changes into a darker, motoring piece which never stops building and eventually fades out, ending the album on a mesmerising note.

Lyrically, despite love and death both being prevailing themes, the lines are often smooth and at times endearingly cheesy ("I'll put my arms around you all night long baby/I'll kiss you head to toe, I'll sing you a song baby/I'll rock with you baby side by side/I'll rock with you till the day we die") like so many classic soul tunes that make your parents well up. But it's done the way it should be and with Big Inner Matthew E. White looks to have succeeded in collating these recognisable elements and using them to create something sounding fresh that'll be much appreciated by those who don't need to be shocked to be entertained.