We’re ecstatic to be bringing you the first instalment of our Wordsmith Weekly feature. A weekly (believe it or not) feature championing some of the best songwriting talents the industry has to offer.
Our first wordsmith is London’s SAM DOTIA, a soulful singer-songwriter whose lyricism is nothing short of heavenly. DOTIA is by no means confined by the boundaries of genre, dappling in R&B, Folk, Indie, Soul and beyond.
Drawing influence from the likes of Jeff Buckley, Bon Iver and HYUKOH, SAM DOTIA’s music oozes the same quality, authenticity and emotion. DOTIA’s tracks such as ‘Uriah’s Cry’ could effortlessly soundtrack a coming of age film, he is every music supervisor’s dream.
His most recent release ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is a work of art, a collaboration with the equally talented Rachel Chinouriri. The track is ethereal, infused with soul, feeling and emotion. Truly a beautiful track, and a musical match made in heaven.
Gabor Lesko has had a very successful career as a session musician in Italy (playing, producing and arranging several soundtracks for TV and film) as well as writing guitar tutorial books published by Carisch, an Italian publisher. He’s also established a solo career as a musician in his own right!
Fingerfusion Project is his latest album and it’s a demonstration of his insane talent as a writer and guitar virtuoso. It takes on elements of Jazz, Prog and Rock, bringing them together effortlessley. One of the tracks from the album ‘Faith and Glory’ made it as Jazz FM’s ‘Track of the Week’ recently.
Gabor and his band skirt on the edges of jazz highlighted with some brilliant sax courtesy of Eric Marienthal, but ultimately take more of a progressive approach with moving time signatures and fluid chord structures that keep the listener on their toes.
At a time when ‘the jazz mentality’ is permeating through to the mainstream, Swiss musician Alex Scheuerer is primed to release one of the most impressive jazz albums of the year. The ‘Between Heaven and Earth‘ album was recorded in 2 days in London’s Eastcote Studios. During these sessions, it was of the highest importance for Alex that his musicians recorded simultaneously in order to capture the singularity of the instant. In doing so, it was ensured that the rawest and most unique moments of the recording process were immortalised henceforth.
With jazz, formulaically, it’s a genre that’s full of surprises and moments of magic. In removing the temptation of any kind of production trickery, this ensured that the best and worst eventualities were encouraged as part of the process. As Alex himself describes: “Between Heaven and Earth expresses a will to reach perfection while being unable to do so. An ever perfectible journey through necessary deceptions and successes.” Moreover, rehearsal for each track was completed an hour before recording the whole album, and recording was remarkably achieved in no more than 3 takes.
While having being based in London for nearly a decade, the Swiss national has long since been an accomplished session musician across Europe, Morroco and Dubai. On this occasion, Alex was responsible for writing the whole arrangement and leading proceedings in the process. The album contains cover versions of both ‘Diamonds‘ by Rihanna, as well as Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose‘. The former features the voice of Najwa, who notably reached the semi-finals of The Voice in France, reaching the semi finals of the competition.
The inspiration for the title holds it’s own intrigue. Mount Lebanon, home to his maternal roots, is a place that Alex Scheuerer has described as being a place which is close to his heart, and expresses a similar kind of duality that was aforementioned to be an integral ideal behind the production process. Continuing, “A beautiful country torn apart by his history. It is the soul and inspiration breathing through the notes, and the sound which I hope will make you travel and draw colours in your own mind.” Having gone back there and seeing the ruins of where his mother used to live echoed an honest interpretation of somewhere so beautiful it could be considered heaven, but won’t be due to it’s native tensions and, as such, represents the good and bad in all of us.
At a time when originality in the music industry feels like it has hit an all-time low, Uno Prism is smashing the mould into smithereens, starting with new single “Into Place”. Uno Prism is Emma Welsby, a classically-trained Scottish musician now settled in Manchester. All this is set to change with Uno Prism’s ravishingly stylish nu-jazz-inflected electronica, combining Emma’s vibes expertise with bone-rattling bass rhythms, sweeping cinematic strings, gossamer-like vocals and electronic thrums. we caught up with Emma to find out about the process behind her songwriting.
What is the meaning behind your pseudonym ‘Uno Prism’?
It’s called Uno Prism because I am one person with this music in my head, and I need other musicians with skills to direct to make my vision in my head, a reality.
What’s the narrative of your song, ‘Into Place’?
‘Into Place’ that I’m releasing is about being in a relationship with someone who you think can give you everything you need, you try, you think you’ve got something awesome, but it keeps breaking.
What was your inspiration to create music?
I had a broken heart back in Jan 2016, I wrote some tracks to get me through the end of the winter to fill that empty ‘void’ you get when you are newly single but right before I was left by my partner and wrote this music, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a lifelong condition with no cure. Music is my escape, a perfect place for escapism from the stresses and strains of everyday life not only for me, but for others too.
What is one of your achievements that you are proud of?
I made it to the finals of BBC Fame Academy bursary grant awards years ago to be in line to win £32,000. I got through 20,000 applicants into the last 20, and then took a trip to fame academy house in London to film the final that was aired on either BBC 1 or 2, I can’t remember.
Ricardo Bacelar’s third album ‘Sebastiana’ transcends musical styles and extends way beyond trends and fashions. Through a combination of improvisation, meticulous composition and intense studio work, the Brazilian pianist has created a timeless release which is evocative, inspiring and often deeply moving.
What’s the most important thing you learned during the creation of Sebastiana?
Creativity is dynamic- it’s related to life itself with its phases and seasons.
How did you put your own twist on the traditional?
Brazilian music has a personality of its own, from a harmonious and melodic point of view. Brazil is a country of many influences so I used elements from all over Latin America to add value to this re-reading of the Brazilian music.
What do you want your fans to know about the album?
That the album is more than a collection of songs. It is a concept, which brings a musical language, brings a visual aesthetic, a discourse on Latin America, an homage to the musician Jackson do Pandeiro, the painter Di Cavalcanti, the affirmation of the Brazilian music.
Were there any surprises during the process?
I met Cesar Lemos [associate producer on Sebastiana] by chance, a great friend who had not seen for a long time, a successful producer and former roommate, when we shared an apartment in Rio de Janeiro, in the eighties. We spent 25 years without meeting and, when I turned 50, we met by chance to do make this record. For me they were very significant ages and surrounded by superstition, which gave me a special feeling about this project.
The revolution will not be televised… but it will be at Cambridge Jazz Festival this upcoming weekend as Malik & the O.G.’s prepare a run of events at the festival celebrating the work of Gil Scott-Heron.
The upcoming appearance at Cambridge Jazz Festival include multiple seminars, talks and performance by Malik Al Nasir, showcasing why Gil Scott-Heron is still relevant to artists as well as social politics today.
Gil Scott-Herons most notable work comes in the form of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, a spoken word track released in 1971 – it’s free form style and spoken-word, poetic approach to lyricism within music is an example of breaking down the wall between music and art, the song is not only musically but literarily insightful.
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” holds lyrical significance even by today’s musical standards, whilst contemporary lyricism is more explicit and straight forward. The message it gave was a public one and that if there was going to be a revolution within 1970s America is not going to be televised; it was going to stare you in the face and it was going to be real.
“The Revolution will be not be re-run, the revolution will be live.” Are the final words of the iconic track that Gil Scott-Heron is most notable for – it’s a message that still holds strong within the current socio-political climate within America.
Malik Al Nasir who was Gil Scott-Heron’s protégé is currently following in his footsteps, delivering a message that is direct, insightful as well as artistic.
Malik Al Nasir is a Guyanese activist, poet and filmmaker from Liverpool, following in his mentors footsteps; Malik’s work Malik discusses how colonialism and slavery destroys identity, he also establishes the significance of genealogy, anthropology and DNA as an insight into “who we actually are” as well celebrating our inherited roots and cultural identity without anyone else dictating otherwise – using his Guyanese roots as an example of claiming his heritage and being self-aware of one’s cultural inheritance.
“My own journey back to Guyana to re-connect with my South American roots, was actually both a quest for lost family ties and a search for historical truth. Discovering I had an indigenous Amerindian grandmother, further complicated an already convoluted sense of self and the discovery of my Scottish aristocratic slave-owner ancestry, will offer the basis of a paradigm shift in how we view Transatlantic slavery – as it was practiced in Demerera South America.”
Malik will also explore the significance of the “Black Arts Movement” in America and how he contributes to that via Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets – with his role as an activist in breaking down colonialism and its control over identity.
Malik will be running an “Artist as Activists seminar” at the University of Cambridge, Centre of Latin American studies at 5pm on the 17th of November. “The Revolution Will Be Live!” will take place on the 18th of November at 8:30pm, Cambridge Wine Merchants. Finally Classic Album Sundays event; a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron will be running two events on the 19th of November at 2pm, Hidden Rooms, and 8pm Arts Picture house.
Links to tickets for these events can be found here;
Not many artists can say they’ve outsold legendary acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, except for Canada’s own Crack of Dawn who are back with Spotlight, featuring a collection of classic tracks.
With other titles such as being the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS) as well as being picked up by Otis Redding’s producer, Crack of Dawn were anticipated for bigger things, though word from them remained quiet… until now.
Returning with a selection of re-recorded classics from the band as well as some new tracks, Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight is an authentic return to the classic funk and soul sounds of their era.
The overarching theme of the album seems to be nostalgia and sentimentality, what Spotlight does exceedingly well is maintain an authentic sound throughout; it does not do anything out of the ordinary and the album is actually not that adventurous – and that’s fine.
For funk fans, there is something for everyone, from the strong Stevie Wonder vibes on one of the lead tracks ‘Booby Ruby’ to the falsetto vocals on ‘Keep the Faith’ that allude to a sound similar to what the Ohio Players had on their album Honey.
The album opens up strong with the classic and unmistakable funk sounds, ‘Crack of Dawn’ does a great job in laying out what the band is capable of, from the jazz inclined funk virtuosity to the soaring synth melodies and strong bass grooves. The first four tracks of the album maintain that uplifting funk quality as seen with their contemporaries, what Spotlight manages to capture in the earlier parts of the album are different flavors of funk from their era, ‘Somebody’s Watching’ features almost a 1970s “cop-drama” tonality to it with the wah-heavy guitars with a catchy descending riff during the chorus.
Halfway through the album with ‘It’s alright’ changes the pace with an authentic funk ballad that heavily enforces the theme of sentimentality and nostalgia throughout the album. The theme reaches its pinnacle with the track ‘Ol’ Skool’ which sounds like it could have come straight out of the late 70s, the track also pays homage to their contemporaries through the years within the lyrical content, ‘Ol’ Skool’ comes across as a a labor of love and defines the bands mission.
Whilst the album remains authentic to its sound and doesn’t deviate from its purpose, its biggest flaw is the length in which the album tends to latch on to the sentimental ballad sounds. Tracks five through to nine are all sentimental ballads with only slight variations on how they approach the stereotypical funk-ballad sounds, and whilst the dynamics of the album are thoroughly consistent, by track nine the ballads become exhausting, despite how well they are crafted. With only one track left of the album there is very little opportunity to pick up from where the album started.
‘Changes’, the final track finally picks up the pace and invokes a big finale to the album, bringing it back to the big, groovy funk tracks that started the album and brings a full circle to what the band can do.
Spotlight is a great album because it’s an authentic return to funk. In a time where experimentation is key to surviving in the music world, it’s nice to hear something new and modern that throws the listener back to the 1970’s and the dawn of funk. Spotlight is not adventurous and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, and that’s okay – because it’s a nostalgic throwback to the times where they outsold Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s the bands opportunity to reminisce the good old days.
You can keep up to date with Crack of Dawn and purchase the latest album by following their social network links below;
What do you get when you combine the immaculate harmonies of the Ohio Players and the easy-listening soul of Lionel Richie? Lawrence Preston.
San Francisco Bassist and vocalist Lawrence Preston delves into a throwback of the funk and soul peaks with his single ‘Something For You.’
The track features a combination of influences and styles that will be sure to catch anybodies ear and peak interest, from smooth gospel-like harmonies, to jazz flavorings on the bass (in the same way contemporaries such as Thundercat) the song is a fresh and modern take on a cemented genre.
An artist can take a genre and reinvent it by putting their own mark on it, but where ‘Something For You’ shines is the authenticity to modern music, it deserves in place alongside the contemporaries – with influences from the original days of funk with the guitar licks, all the way to early 2000’s soulful RnB love croon, the track is a collective of Lawrence’s influence and proves that he has honed his craft.
However, whilst the track stands alongside contemporaries, it’s also a very familiar sound, for right and wrong reasons – it’s not going to alienate fans of the genre, the sound or Lawrence’s music anytime soon, yet I feel like I’ve heard it all before, it doesn’t achieve much in terms of shock and awe, bar a few tasty bass licks thrown in every now and then, which shows off some of Lawrence’s virtuoso tendencies.
‘Something For You’ is a track that not only shares passion that Lawrence has for his craft, but also shows the skill that Lawrence has as a musician; a man of influence.
‘Something For You’ is available now, you can grab the track on the links below as well as keep up to date with Lawrence Preston on his social network links;
Three time Grammy award winner and seasoned Rockabilly veteran Brian Setzer marked his return to London for the first time in six years last Tuesday (11/07/17), playing the only U.K show in his European tour at the O2 Kentish Town Forum.
London is a significant place for Brian Setzer, being the city that the Stray Cats, the Rockabilly revival band made it’s inception in 1981 after travelling from Long Island, New York to join in with the Rocker revival happening in Britain at the time.
“Hello London!” Setzer at his first London flat. / Source: @briansetzerofficial (Facebook)
With a crowd both young and old the streets of Kentish Town were lined up with rockers clad in leather and pomp’s up high. With a career spanning over 40 years and indulging in not just Rockabilly but Jazz too, London welcomed him with open arms.
Setzer’s presence was known as he walked on stage in a classy pinstripe suit donning his orange Gretsch as his musical hero Eddie Cochran would have done. His Rockabilly Riot included the regular, orthodox line up of an upright bassist and drummer, with the inclusion of a pianist (rhythm guitarist for numerous songs) and went straight into a cover of Carl Perkins ‘Put Your Cat Clothes On’, which emanated a certain suaveness.
Setzer; in his pinstripe suit donning his orange Gretsch, during the opening song. / Source: Christina Vigh (Youtube)
The show was what you would expect from Setzer and his entourage to this date, a humble showcase of Setzer’s career spanning from the Stray Cats, with a welcoming performance of Cry Baby, from the cats revival era album Choo Choo Hot Fish to his Orchestra which included a delightful performance of his Louis Prima cover of ‘Jump, Jive an’ Wail’.
Setzer continued to play a collection of songs throughout his career, including ‘Slow Down’, which lead into a cover of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ with a career with as much longevity as Setzer, he worked his charm and the entire crowd joined in.
Inbetween songs, Setzer would work that charm and converse in stories of rock and roll and the occasional memoir, one of which talking about Dave Edmunds and the original recording of Runaway Boys, leading into a dual guitar rendition “the way it was recorded”.
But of course, many of the audience were most likely there for the love they share for Setzer’s primary band The Stray Cats, and fans walked away content hearing the bands popular tracks, including ‘Stray Cat Strut’ and ‘Rumble In Brighton’, the latter being fitting of the Cats inception in the U.K.
Whilst the performance itself was a spectacle, I felt the sound of the venue could have been better; notably the pianist, who was playing Jerry Lee Lewis “staccato” styled licks adding to the authenticity of the performance, whilst a welcoming feature, the live mix would boost the solo’s to an uncomfortable rate, often being muddled in the mix, this was also the case with a couple of the guitar solos, mayhap my position in the venue did not help being front & center.
It’s hard to talk about a performance like this and not mention the virtuosity of the bands playing, from the incredible speeds and textures of the upright bassist, to the Jazz influenced Rockabilly style that Setzer has crafted in the latter part of his career, the subtlety of showing off technique and skill in a humble way, Setzer gives off a vibe of enjoying his craft, from the instrumental version of the 1950’s classic ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’, all the way to the encore of his version of Santo & Johnny’s ‘Sleepwalk’, a bittersweet conclusion to the show before blasting into the final song ‘Rock This Town’.
Brian Setzer, and his Rockabilly Riot are currently in the middle of their European tour. With the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Stray Cats debut album coming up next year, we may (or may not) be seeing more of him very soon.
Source: Christina Vigh (Youtube)
Put Your Cat Clothes On (Carl Perkins cover)
Rumble In Brighton
Stray Cat Strut
Nothing Is A Sure Thing, Baby
’49 Mercury Blues
Drive Light Lightning
Slow Down (Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash cover)
Gene & Eddie
Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys cover)
A Light From The Other Side is Lisa Richards’ new album set for release on 21st April, and the Australian singer-songwriter has formed the new record from a base of folk and jazz that create an almost unheard of sound for modern audiences.
Lisa suffered during her childhood, with a difficult upbringing that included her mother being involved in a car crash and a lot of substance abuse, even from a young age. Yet it is these memories and experiences that allow her to write her introspective songs in her own unique style,
Taken from the new album, ‘Frank Sinatra’ is an upbeat tune full of delicate shuffling guitar and Lisa’s incredible vocals that occupy their very own private estate in the world of singing voices; you’ve honestly never heard anyone quite like her.
A Light From The Other Side exhibits Lisa Richard’s fascinating and turbulent life story, which is weaved throughout her songs. Set for release in April of this year, the record was also put together with the help of internationally renowned producer-singer-songwriter, Greg J Walker.