26 June 2019 (released)
18 August 2019
The coalescing watercolours that grace the cover of the latest release from New Orleans duo /fyo͞oɡ/, perfectly capture the essence of their beautifully chaotic form of experimental, blues informed jazz. Like tidal pools spilling into one another, each of singer Katarina Boudreaux and keyboardist Sam Tepper's talents overflows their banks creating these washes of hearty vocal embellishments and lush piano flourishes. Born of a happenstance meeting at a gig, the duo has found their niche in taking the classic form of loungey vocal jazz in the style of a Holliday or Fitzgerald and infusing it with a blues bar stomp and fanciful psychedelia. Temp'rall Sho'gazing remembers the Golden Age as a technicolour dream.
'Better' kicks the album off with a tropical vibe. Tepper's left-hand holds down a quirky darting base while his right flutters with anticipation. Boudreaux enters with a restrained power her voice shakes to the bones even at lower dynamics. The samba beat vanishes for the ensemble to dissolve into many free form swells peppered throughout the album, acting as palette cleansers, washing away the previous movement in a phantasmagorical wave. One such wave sweeps us into the loose rendition of Nina Simone's 'Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair'. Though Bordreaux's voice doesn't hit the same down in the basement bass that Simone's reaches, she still manages to preside over the track like a priestess conjuring. 'St. Louis Blues' further demonstrates the ensemble's incredible looseness. The piano and drums have this choreographed falling downstairs feel that can only come from a deeply ingrained mastery of rhythm. From this crunchy Tom Waits-esque saunter, the band erupts in a fiery outro to bring it all home.
'Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child' begins the second side with an enrapturing version of the great Richie Havens' classic track 'Freedom'. The song which Havens ravenously tore through 50 years ago this weekend during his opening set at Woodstock, revolves around a hypnotizing incantation acknowledging a lineage of past traumas and atrocities and exorcizing them in a fury of spell-binding power. Where Havens used his fiercely strummed acoustic guitar to create the trance, /fyo͞oɡ/ use their brand of tempestuous free form flood paired with Boudreaux's raging Mother Earth wail. The visceral revamp serves as the album's intensity high point. Another original along with a couple of bluesy standards round out the record.
Temp'rall Sho'gazing finds its brilliance in its fusion of tried and true classics with bold experimentation. Whether it's their own stylish compositions or their retooling of classics nearly a century old, /fyo͞oɡ/ approach everything with vivacity and an open mind. For those who see jazz and blues as only a relic under glass, this record should shatter that illusion.