I was In the middle of putting my studio back together after the Courtney’s Jazz Warriors concert and catching up with the various invoices, bills and tax traps I’ve been dodging since last week, when I made the big mistake of putting on Bianca Rose’s Promo CD truths and tiny tragedies. I say it was a mistake because it is an utterly arresting CD and I knew immediately that I would have to down tools and pen this review instead.
I’ll be honest the current crop of R&B starlets have left me somewhat disappointed. So I’m very grateful to Bianca for the reminder that there are still people making the kind of music that can stop you for just a moment. The power of the song remains strong, and Bianca knows it. She effortlessly ascends into the pantheons that understand and retain the narrative more important than the cadence.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a walking history of soul licks from Mariah Carey to Kelly Rowland. But like dinner before desert, Blues comes before soul. Blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits. And in this simple vocal / guitar 6 track starter, Bianca’s blues really come out and invite challenge you to walk a mile in her shoes.
Engineer Kevin Soles has the privilege of putting Rose’s vocals right at the front of the mix with lots of top end gain and an open, airy EQ. You can only do this when you’re given a good vocal to work with. And in a market saturated with female singers that sing in tune but are unable to add any actual character to either the note or the word being sung, Bianca will stand out as a refreshing exception.
But the best of it is yet to come. The lyrical content is from a person who has had a lot to reflect on in a very short space of time. Her words manage to freeze-frame the hustle and bustle of Metropolitan London life and project beauty into the urban enneyeux which we’ve come to accept. . The track Wha’pn Darling – A free download available on her myspace - reveals her intimate knowledge Brixton Market of all places, which she espouses with a frequent, sudden, but effortless switch between Jamaican patios and soulful crooning, and cheeky cockney humour and faux-ghetto girltalk Bianca’s music is unmistakeably AfroPean in this respect
It is clear that Bianca’s vocals do not rely on power and projection, and I imagine it would take a particularly sensitive ensemble to do her music justice; such is the importance of the lyrical content. On this debut recording at least, Producer Warren King has been sensible enough to let Bianca’s voice do the talking.
Recommended if you like: Zena Edwards, Floetry, Rice and peas on a Sunday, India Arie, Lauryn Hill unplugged, to think… to feel.
OK Back to work now. Got to transcribe an Alien Ant farm tune for my bass lessons tomorrow. And a dozen other things to do Thanks to Bianca for the brief respite in the interim.