SONG PREMIERE: Matt Lovell Takes Cues From Aretha Franklin on Soulful Single “BE FREE”


Singer-songwriter Matt Lovell grew up learning to sing three-part harmonies in a household steeped in soul and Southern gospel, influences which have wound their way into the music he makes today. He comes by it honestly; in the 1950s, Lovell’s maternal grandfather was in touring gospel quartets, spending weekends singing for congregations across the South. Those roots anchor the tracks on his forthcoming LP, Nobody Cries Today, set for release on June 5th.

Today, via Glide Magazine, Lovell unveils his latest single, “Be Free,” which was inspired by the Aretha Franklin-style gospel heard in his youth and revisited during the creation of his album. Subdued organ and a laid-back rhythm section provides a dreamy, vintage-washed landscape for Lovell’s soulful, velvety vocals. “Spendin’ all our days/Trying to make it to the sun/But I don’t wanna go/Unless there’s room for everyone…Somebody tell me when we gon’ be free,” he implores, a question the entire world seems to be asking today – when will we be free of bigotry, free of racism, free of classism, and even free from the sickness currently ravaging our planet? 

This message also bears great significance given that he almost lost his life – in January 2017, shortly after he finished recording the album, Lovell was carjacked, shot point-blank in the chest, and left for dead in his Nashville hometown. He was miraculously rescued by a nearby stranger who happened to be an EMT and spent the next two years recovering from his injuries – physical wounds and a major bout of PTSD. Now, he is stronger than ever and is ready for the world to hear his music.

Of the song, Lovell says:

“‘Be Free’ is one of my favorites to sing because it reminds me of my upbringing. Around the time we recorded this batch of songs, I was listening to a lot of Aretha Franklin’s gospel recordings. I have such a romance for this era of gospel, and I’ve always been a huge admirer of hers. She’s a force of elegance and dignity paired with a fiery energy.  More than anything I love the fact that you always feel like she’s telling the truth when she sings. When we took this song to the studio, I asked [producer] Matt Odmark to frame the song in those references. We tracked it live, and when I went to the control room to listen back, I was floored to hear that we captured it in just a couple of takes.”


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