UK Jazz. It’s a phrase synonymous with greatness. Over the years, this country has produced some of the most innovative, dynamic and explosive jazz music in the world, and it comes as no surprise that Emma-Jean Thackray’s debut album Yellow is another incredible addition to the already thriving sound. The multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer has made some of the most intense and memorable music over the last few years, but her debut feels more focused than any other work of hers to date. It’s a truly spectacular project, drawing influences from broken-beat electronic music, house and of course jazz. 14 tracks long, its sprawling sound is just incredible, every step of the way, with rhythms and compositions that are equally as dynamic and groovy as they area ethereal and spiritual.
From the get-go, “Mercury” sets the tone perfectly for it all. The drums and keys are mesmeric, captivating sound that draws me in completely to her sound. As the bass kicks in, and the synths, horns and drumming intensifies, the track transforms into this intense, cacophonous sound that is enthralling and utterly captivating. “Say Something” features heavy grooves and beats that are perfect for the dancefloor, with vocals that sound beautiful over the mesmeric soundscape. Tracks like “Venus”, “Third Eye” and “Sun” carry this insanely infectious and dynamic groove, with fast-paced drumming, playful piano melodies and ethereal vocals that perfectly draw me in to her sound, with this allure in the sound she’s able to create that is just so impressive throughout. More mellow and reflective moments such as “Golden Green” carry a sonic balance to the project, but don’t get it twisted, this album is made for the dancefloor. Grooves upon grooves, there are moments on here that are truly joyful. The strings on “Spectre” are truly amazing, and the drum rhythms and playful keys are gorgeous, while the fusion-jazz influence of “Rahu & Ketu” is just so captivating. The drums on “Our People” are tribal, with this thumping groove that locks me in to a groove that is impossible to shake off. It honestly makes me nostalgic for those hypnotic and cathartic live shows at small, almost claustrophobic London venues that play intense, drum-heavy jazz and house music. The sprawling and dense “Mercury (In Retrograde)” closes the album out with another elevating, hypnotic moment, capturing the essence of her music. The soul, heart and love she puts into her music is truly incredible, and her ability to create music that is just so pure and vibrant is what’s so impressive and commendable.
Emma-Jean Thackray’s debut album Yellow is a sprawling body of work, full of intense drum-led rhythms, playful melodies and ethereal sounds that encompass what I (and many other people) love about jazz. It’s a truly mesmeric body of work, and one that puts her among the very best talents this country has to offer. Go listen, go support, and go get lost in her music! Released on her own label Movementt.