Phoenix Fire Records (label)
07 October 2020 (released)
07 October 2020
There is something about this album that is deeply warming and satisfying. The playing is superb, the songwriting is excellent but the core is a sense that she is making music for her own pleasure as much as her listeners.
Ms Colliers music is based somewhere between Blues and New Orleans Jazz and she possesses a voice that is a perfect harmony for her chosen instrument, the alto saxophone.
She comes to this album – her fourth - fresh off winning a 2020 Blues Music Award (BMA) for Instrumentalist - Horn Player of the Year for the second year in a row (2020 & 2019), and the whole album reflects her confidence and comfort as an artist.
Right out of the traps with ‘Superbad’ there is a grumbling bass groove (Scot Sutherland), wailing sax from Ms Collier and powerful vocals – the funk is strong with this one – but over the next two tracks she shows just how wide her repertoire is with a sweet soul number in ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ showing off another side of her vocal prowess along with full blown horn section and then ‘Bloodhound’ taking her deep into classic Blues territory with her Resonator and Delta styled vocal (one of the best tracks here).
She gets back on the funk with a hot version of ‘Leave Your Hat On’ and stays there through ‘Take A Chance On Me’ and it feels as though this is really where her natural style lays.
She also does moody to incredible effect on ‘Weep And Moan’, probably my favourite track, which just hits all the buttons – a powerful downbeat rhythm, wailing keys, a superb guitar solo (Laura Chavez) and a sleazy sax line that is just perfect.
Vanessa Collier is a remarkable artiste, seemingly equally adept at singing, playing sax or even Resonator and she definitely has the chops to take in soul, funk, Blues and jazz.
This set is clearly her best so far and really makes it as a very listenable album.