Give Oscar Jerome his flowers! The South London-based musician has been releasing some of the most soulful, rhythmic and exciting music in recent years. Single after Single, collaboration after collaboration, I become more and more enamored by this man’s music. It’s his effortless guitar rhythms, slight huskiness in his voice and the dynamic, groovy and jazz-inspired soundscape that complements his style and music that makes his aura as an artist mesmeric. It’s hard to believe that Breathe Deep is his debut album considering the fact I’ve known about his music for well over 4 years now, but it’s finally here and it is as mesmeric and potent as I had imagined.
It’s a reflective release, one that gracefully showcases Oscar’s vulnerabilities. The first thing to note is the incredible textures and sonic nuances throughout the project. The rhythms, basslines and subtle yet poignant drumming on “Sun For Someone” are all incredibly textured, with his message of “the sun will always come for someone” shining throughout this track. It’s an incredible way to properly open the album after the short and atmospheric “searching for aliens.” The incredible drumming that kicks off “Give Back What U Stole From Me” is hypnotic, and when the horns and basslines come in…. ooohhh myyy. Talk about groove! Oscar’s delivery here is more dominant and dare I say a bit angry. Almost a spoken word piece, he flows about political lies and bullshit, the inequality and so on. Fuck Boris and the Tory government is the sentiment here, and of course we should all support this 1000%. The horn melodies are infectious and the whole groove just makes me want to dance through the night and until sunrise. “Your Saint” features the ever excellent Brother Portrait, one of the most talented and incredibly gifted poets working today. The emphatic energy of that track is incredible. It’s overpowering and overwhelming, which is something that is prevalent throughout the entire album. Though I don’t have many details on collaborators, I know that Joe Armon-Jones, Sons of Kemet and Maisha have all been involved in the sound, and it’s a beautiful thing. The beauty of “Coy Moon” makes it a stand out on the album for me, with its incredible percussion and drumming that build such an infectious groove. The beat and angelic keys on “Gravitate” are exceptional, and when the bassline and guitar leads kick in, oh man. So, so good. Another self-reflecting track which just gets better and better with each listen. The textures and grooves, man. And there’s so much soul. This track, but also each and every one on the album is just utterly flawless in its composition. The horns, complemented with the incredible guitar leads on “Fkn Happy Days ‘N’ That” are incredible. It’s like an extended jam session, and reminds me of those many times I’ve danced at the Total Refreshment Centre in Dalston. The melodic and angelic tone of “Timeless” is incredible. Lianne La Havas, who came out with an incredible new album of her own this year, is featured on this track, and provides such angelic, gorgeous vocals that pierce through the incredible instrumental. The short interlude “draggin’ my” is a catchy moment on the album, and flows effortlessly into the closer “Joy Is You.” More of an acoustic and stripped back track, it showcases the raw emotive talents of this incredible artist. The guitar melodies on this track are stunning, and the raw emotive power of his voice is just stunning.
This is a stunningly beautiful body of work that is both reflective, critical of self and institutions around us, but also hopeful and optimistic. The human spirit is unbreakable, I believe that wholeheartedly, and Oscar Jerome’s music is pure, and unquestionably human. Oscar Jerome’s debut album Breathe Deep is a near-flawless project, with textures and grooves unlike anything I’ve heard this year. A sublime body of work deserving of all the love and support!