I have a lot of adulation for independent and talented artist working hard and abouring their way through the music industry. The days of relying on a Manager, Producer, Investor, Graphic Artist and a Tour Manager are long gone. Yet Fiona Ross is all this and more. Fiona has embarked on that unknown journey to bring home another wonderful album 'Fierce and Non-Compliant'. This is the UK artist that just keeps giving us great and compelling music.
They say there is no rest for the wicked and this is certainly the case following the success of Black, White and a Little Bit of Grey in 2018. The album features a number of distinct jazz genres including swing, ballads and contemporary-soul.
The music is original whist the lyrics are meaningful and catchy.
I'm not sure how Fiona manages her time as an accomplished writer, producer and journalist. She must work on a 36-hour clock. That is the only logical explanation for a creative artist to consistently deliver meaningful quavers intertwined with spoken words of a lifetime journey. When you have listened to all the tracks, absorbed the melodies and digested the lyrics you will then begin to appreciate each tune is a polished facet that is only one part of this this diamond, but together shines so bright it will be seen from afar.
Maxine Gordon, President of the Dexter Gordon Society, pens an admirable forward for the CD and a lot of thought and effort has gone into the presentation. I have said before the art of music packaging and overall presentation is a dying art and has not been sustained since the days of the Blue Note album covers. To quote the adage " A picture says a thousand words" is a fitting statement for this album cover.
The title track conjures up a defiant young lady with arms crossed, firmly place and not going anywhere! Fierce and Non-Compliant transitions from a swing to an upbeat rhythm. The lyrics are cool with added accents on the chorus making it a great song to sing to.
Fiona has penned a personal message For My Dad with thoughtful, heartfelt lyrics bolstered with simple and non-complex tune, giving the vocals that much deserved the spotlight. For me, this is where the musical journey begins and this a very moving piece.
For those of you, that know me may be familiar with my love for Latin and Jazz Funk. Be on my side is quite possibly my favourite track on the album as Fiona's powerful vocals command the hair on the back of my neck to stand to attention. I can feel my foot tapping away and my head swaying from side to side as Gibbi Bettini surfs into a monstrous guitar solo. He definitely has control of this music landscape.
I cannot recall when I last heard a serenade on a jazz album, but now is a good time to appreciate I Followed My Heart. It's not until you frequently listen to this song, you realise how technically challenging it is to accomplish this smooth jazz texture. Adam Cooper's vocals are really polished, well executed and warm. He is not a Wordsmith but a Jazzsmith.
Just Tell Me When is a beautiful song, and the melody is invigorating, buoyant and memorable. This has been a regular play to kick-start my mornings. The overall feel is creative and commercially should be a sounding success.
Every day should begin with something unexpected, and this album embarks on the unknown journey. This album is your companion for the journey unknown.
If you like this, you may also like Gretchen Parlato. Listen here:
Fiona Ross (Vocals, Piano)
Adam Hayes and Warren Woodcraft (Percussion)
Derek Daley (Bass)
Loren Hignell (Sax)
Adam Brown (Trumpet)
Gibbi Bettini (Guitar)
Marley Drummond (Drums)
Label: Therapy Records