Sparkling upness from Nishla Smith touring Friends With Monsters soon

Charming, lyrically strong, toothsome and homespun, 'Up' is a tuneful original from the sleeplessness-themed studio album Friends With Monsters to be released in November by Whirlwind. Nishla Smith, a Manchester-based Australian, sounds on this …

Published: 19 Sep 2021. Updated: 38 days.

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Charming, lyrically strong, toothsome and homespun, 'Up' is a tuneful original from the sleeplessness-themed studio album Friends With Monsters to be released in November by Whirlwind. Nishla Smith, a Manchester-based Australian, sounds on this track, oh, like Stacey Kent at first blush. But actually no not quite. Because it's jazz-poppier it veers over to the realm of Yael Naim and specifically 'New Soul' territory. Touring with the singer's Friends With Monsters jazz quintet – trumpeter Aaron Wood, pianist Richard Jones, double bassist Joshua Cavanagh-Brierley and drummer Johnny Hunter – catch Smith at The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen on Thursday 14 October; Scarborough Jazz, Wednesday 27 Oct; Ronnie Scott's, London, Monday 1 November; Bobiks, Newcastle, Thurs 4 Nov; The Yard, Manchester, Monday 8 Nov; Seven Arts, Leeds, Sunday 14 Nov; The Spotted Dog, Birmingham, Tuesday 23 Nov; and at the Vortex, London, Thurs 2 December.

Tags: Breaking through

Does Personal Belongings live up to all the enticement of the pre-release tracks?

The Omer Klein trio, above, are quite melodic and improvise in a modern-mainstream fashion, in other words they paraphrase melody and construct easily discernible structures in the arc of their trio play. They don't do freak-outs, play massively …

Published: 18 Sep 2021. Updated: 39 days.

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The Omer Klein trio, above, are quite melodic and improvise in a modern-mainstream fashion, in other words they paraphrase melody and construct easily discernible structures in the arc of their trio play. They don't do freak-outs, play massively dissonantly and in that sense are not avant-garde at all. Do not diss them for this. In fact don't diss them at all because there is a lot to like and appreciate unless you are an anti-melody-on-principle or a pretty-melody snob. Answer to the headline, I know you are on tenterhooks, does Personal Belongings live up to the promise of the pre-release tracks? Of course. But at the risk of pulling the rug from under me there was a track that I didn't warm to, perhaps put it down to sheer over-familiarity and that is 'What a Wonderful World' when the album goes too soft-centred. The solo stuff by contrast is one of the album's strong suits. Klein for instance on 'The Magnets' is tremendous but it's the trio stuff I warmed to even more whether on the vibrant middle-eastern sounding 'Baghdad Blues' or elsewhere. The mystical 'Najara' drawing on a liturgical Jewish inspiration remains an album highlight, again a piano solo piece that could even become an earworm after a few plays. Haggai Cohen Milo on double bass can be funky and gives a lot of tonal support. Amir Bresler meanwhile on drums is busy and needs to be given how florid an improviser Klein can be and how decorative the melodic lines are. 'Shake It' has a firm grip on riff and groove and very impressive it is too. The album version is even better than the live promo version circulating a few months back. The OKT rush to the top of my pre-croaking-it bucket list to hear live some day. SG. (Rated: 4/5) Out now on Warners