The gorgeous opening track of Yellow Memories shows that singer and songwriter Fatima Bramme Sey can always do better.
Fatima Bramme Sey's debut LP Yellow Memories has been re-released by Blue Note France two years after it originally came out. It gives voice to that indefinable space between jazz and soul with a beautiful rendition of her songs alongside experimental producer Floating Points.
When it’s needed, the full 16-piece Floating Points Ensemble contributes, but this is an album about Bramma Sey’s voice and everything is designed to bring that to the fore.
I hate comparisons, but it’s hard not to hear hints of similar arrangements and vocal technique in Jill Scott’s Woman, released earlier this year. Never let it be said that there are no good vocalists around anymore.
Yellow Memories is steeped in stylistic experimentation. Bramme Sey experiments with lyrics, melodic lines and time signatures. There’s also a sense of fun that music ought to have more often in what sound like studio outtakes.
This is a beautiful collection of classic soul and R&B with a real modern edge. There’s a real contrast across the whole album. It begins with Do Better featuring the horn section of Floating Points Ensemble in tight horn parts and more free expression. Ending the album with Gave Me My Name provides a completely different feel with a, heart-rending, simple ballad. There’s just piano beneath and alongside Bramma Sey’s extraordinary vocals.
Vocal experimentation – with deliberately dissonant harmonies – features in the magnificent Sun, Star, Solar and Rest In Peace. Bramma Sey and Floating Points seem determined to use the voice as an instrument and show what it’s capable of.
My favourite track – there’s always one on albums like this – has to be La Neta. A classic R&B track which plays with time signatures. It’s both disturbing and energising at the same time. She sings “I can do what I want.” And she can.
Review: Hilary Robertson