Soul music that sounds like its happening right now, inside your speakers, is one of the most energising, revitalising experiences the human ear can experience. The sense that the musicians delivering the songs you’re hearing are lost in the moment, drawn together to produce moments greater than the sum of their parts, is quite the drug. Not that there’s anything wrong with the trebly stomp of some vintage Motown or the sleazy grit of Stax, of course. However, the sense of space around the instruments on ‘Do Better’, the opening track on ‘Yellow Memories’, creates that sensory illusion and the hypnotic quality to Fatima Bramme Sey‘s voice does the rest.
‘Ridin Round (Sky High)’, produced by Scoop DeVille, is wipe-clean electro-soul bedecked with a nagging loop and some ticklish drum patterns. The electronic burbling and bold percussion are also present on the especially remarkable ‘Circle’, a song with a simmering, irresistible intensity. The stop-start splendour of ‘Underwater’ is made all the more charming by the addition of a disembodied, reverby whistle in parts. There are so many ideas across these twelve tracks that it’ll take you half a dozen listens to figure out just what you’ve got. The brief a capella burst ‘Sun Star Solar’ is one of several points on ‘Yellow Memories’ where you’re reminded that, whatever the trickery going on across this album, its bedrock is a powerfully expressive voice.
I have to give a symbolic doff of my metaphorical hat to the inimitable Gilles Peterson for introducing me to this unique talent. His Saturday afternoon show on 6 Music is an absolute joy to spend time with, mixing together a history of soul, jazz, hip-hop, r’n’b and so much more with the more invigorating end of modern music. On the rare occasion that a track doesn’t hit the spot, there’s always something to grab you up next. I find it an especially vital listen in the warmer months, with longer days and the potential for shorts, but only days before I wrote this he delivered the second part of his Blue Note special, celebrating 75 years of the iconic label. It’s an absolute tour de force, as you might imagine, and you can catch up via this link. As well as having her in for a session, Peterson played tracks from ‘Yellow Memories‘ rather often in the first half of this year and it wasn’t difficult to spot the appeal. Enjoyably fidgety in its approach to genre and fantastically sure of itself, this is a record for which I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. And I already love it.