Monday, 19 June 2017

"In My Room" by JACOB COLLIER (July 2016 CD on Membran - Mastered by Bernie Grundman) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Hotter Than June or July..."

Imagine Todd Rundgren has a love child with Tori Amos, Jon Anderson of Yes and Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile - and on arrival into this screwed up and discordant world of ours - Jamie Callum, Take 6 and Mike Oldfield watch over the crib - taking turns to croon down at the golden child.

London laddie Jacob Collier and his gorgeous musical mishmashes tap into all of these elements and more - and his incredibly accomplished debut album "In Your Room" has taken many listeners – especially cool Jazz, Jazz Vocal and Audiophile buffs - by storm…

Signed to Quincy Jones Productions and mentored by that extraordinary organization - multi-instrumentalist and multi-vocalist Justin Collier released his first album at the staggering old age of 21. Makes you want to smack the smug little git with a tubular bell (but you can't because they're too expensive and you might not get the blood stains out). "In Your Room" - so called after the 'room' he grew up in and recorded every note on the record in - is an astonishing beginning.

Released 1 July 2016 and Mastered by Audio Engineer and long-standing genius Bernie Grundman (a multiple Grammy Nominee and winner) - Membran 234267 (Barcode 885150342671) sounds truly glorious and immediately makes you think of the ten-thousand hours of prep and sweat and toil that must have gone into getting it done. It's a long record – 58:57 minutes – and takes full advantage of the CD format's range. The last song "Don’t You Know" for instance is a plaintive ballad with real emotional punch that clocks in at a mighty nine-minutes.

The three-way foldout card-digipak gives you the usual credits as well as an informative history on his own musical journey written in his own articulate way – though oddly enough it doesn't tell you what instrument was played or where when an Mike Oldfield-moment album like this cries out for those kind of details (there are internet threads trying to disseminate on his vocal style and techniques). Comparisons to Stevie Wonder (whom he name-checks in the thank you list) and his keyboard style and grooves circa "Innervisions" in 1973 and "Songs In The Key Of Life" in 1976 have been accurately bandied about. Loads of melody - chunky chords - Jazz-Soul grooves from a white kid with a black Soul.

Though young - Collier's voice is similar in depth and sound to Jamie Callum. Collier plays, sings, arranges and writes all the complex songs. There are three notable exceptions – covers that will give you a shoe-in into how he structures songs - "You And I" from Stevie Wonder's 1980 LP "Hotter Than July" - "In The Room" from The Beach Boys 1963 LP "Surfer Girl" (itself a co-write with Gary Usher) and a Grammy winning cover of The Flintstones TV Theme done almost entirely Acapella. In fact his vocal passages in particular when he often synthesises his voice through an electronic keyboard are sweeping and amazing – Acapella taken to the next stage - like Alabama's six-piece gospel group 'Take 6' from the late Eighties and Nineties on Warner Brothers. There's even a trace of Sigur Ros magic in there too.

I could write about this obvious prodigy for days - but you need to see and hear him. If you want some YouTube highlights check out the seven minutes of "Hideaway" or the uplifting "Hajanga" from the album - and then make a beeline to his gorgeous and innovative non-album covers of "Blackbird" by The Beatles (from 1968's The White Album) and Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" originally on 1974's "Fulfillingness' First Finale".

Prepare for dazzling vocal work similar to Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" back in the Blue Note days of old. The Collier covers I've mentioned are available for 99p downloads from both iTunes and Amazon and I'd be genuinely astounded if the "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" version in particular isn't up for a Grammy nomination.

Here's to a bright future kid and don't listen to the four sides of Yes' "Tapes From Topographic Oceans" whatever you do…

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