When Mattiel Brown decided to call her old acquaintance Randy Michael at 3 a.m. last September with the sudden urge to sing, she had no idea what to expect or what it would lead to. Intrigued, Michael invited her over and together they quickly cut a cover of Donovan’s 1965 single “Colours.” Encouraged by the results, Michael soon introduced Brown to Jonah Swilley, his songwriting collaborator in Black Linen and his partner in the newly established production company, InCrowd. From there, it wasn’t long before their creative partnership began to flourish. “Until this time,” Mattiel confesses, “I had no experience writing lyrics or melodies to songs, so I just went with my gut. Very soon we realized we made a very good team, and hashed out several songs during the course of about two weeks.”
For Michael and Swilley, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Frustrated by the lack of label interest in Black Linen’s debut LP, White Noise (out September 10), the duo created InCrowd in order to record and release their own music. In addition to their band material, Michael and Swilley began writing songs and pitching them to other local artists. “InCrowd is a production team,” Michael explains. “Jonah and I write a song, we cut a skeleton, our house band Metronome fills in the skeleton and we record it, mix it and then pitch it to other artists.”
With Mattiel, the duo discovered a willing partner and perhaps the perfect vessel for their retro-leaning garage soul aesthetic. The first time I heard her voice (on the recently released single “Baby Brother”), I immediately thought of local powerhouse Ruby Velle, although with less soul smoothness and more whiskey blues grit. There’s a haunting, ghostly quality to her vocals, a sort of spectral distance unbound by time or space. It’s the sound of light filtering through cracks in a window, settling on particles of dust and exposing the shadows lurking in the corner, if you can imagine such a thing.
Or better yet, just watch and listen to “Send It On Over,” a slow-burning, vintage soul and blues jam that finds Mattiel at her most raw and immediate. Ably directed and edited by Karl “KB” Benion, the video captures the intimacy of her delivery while also highlighting the many players and subtle instrumental details that make the song so powerful and moving. It’s a stunning, electrifying performance and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere it for you this morning.
Mattiel will perform on Thu., Sep. 10 at Aisle 5 in support of Black Linen who will be celebrating the release of White Noise. The InCrowd Band open the show. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance or $12 at the door.