Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Jessi Colasante - Jessi Colasante

Yet another new name to celebrate on the vibrant soul scene in 2008. Jessi Colasante, although diminutive in frame heralds a powerful voice equal to that of the powerful India who appears on many Masters At Work productions (check her “Backfired” for a barn-stormin' performance!) Jessi has a voice that can twist and turn in any direction and has the same rare ability that Ledisi has. Take the opening song, a warm soul mid tempo cut that sounds intimately recorded in a small studio, and live to boot. The driving rhythm is an instant winner, the percussion and acoustic guitar barely restrained, eager to give more, and at the end of the song they certainly do, pretty much in a Teena Marie “Portuguese Love” sort of style – the Brazilian rhythms kick in and make an already toothsome song extra spicy for the palette of the good music connoisseur. This is not unique, Jessi's love of all things Rio bubbles to the surface quite nicely and much to my approval. The wistful “Am I Supposed To” is gentle by definition; a reflective piece that struggles with its own sense of desire and the need not to be hurt. Songs like this from Independent artists can sometimes come across as too personal and too introspective; written for their own healing process more than the pleasure of the listeners, but I don't feel this is the case here. The mournful nature of the song is not at all depressing, the strings add an extra urgency and you can hear an important ingredient in her voice that is missing from much R&B today and that is determination, strength and courage. The tempo, though, does not languish in the pain of relationship troubles for long. A salsa dip arrangement and rollicking beat supersedes this with the vibrant “Inside Out”. One of my favourites is “In My Life” with its leading keys and Afro-Cuban percussion, and the superb slinky jazz number of “My Necessary”, which reminds me of Angela Johnson's type of work, but with a strong Latin slant. If you like a hi-hat 70s vibe then “Are You Ready For Me” should contain enough ingredients to satisfy. I love this, but prefer the jollity of “Rhythm Of Our Lives” more. I personally think that this Lady tends to work better on the uptempo grooves, and her ability to weave in a Latin sound does nothing but add lustre. Well worth checking out.

Barry Towler

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