Yazmin Lacey is a truly special vocalist, someone we’ve long held close to our hearts. Yet in her slim but endlessly fascinating catalogue, there’s been a gap – namely, a full length album. ‘Voice Notes’ closes that hole, a work of remarkable unity that hinges on her emphatic creativity. Soulful in a pan-genre fashion, she’s able to craft an aesthetic memoir that crosses jazz, system culture, and more, all while finessed to remarkable degree.
A self-declared “sound collage”, this mosaic approach is set out from the off. Opener ‘Flylo Tweet’ was born from an improvisatory spoken word piece, edited down into something more succinct. It’s emblematic of her magpie-like approach, and epitomises the sense of editing as an instrument in itself on this project.
Boasting a full hour of music, ‘Voice Notes’ is packed with inspiration. ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Late Night People’ are impeccable neo-soul bumpers, dipping into those twilight hours in the process. ‘From A Lover’ takes on a more vintage feel, it’s soulful vision rooted more in Aretha, say, than Erykah. It’s far from an R&B record, though – Yazmin touches on jazz, while ‘Tomorrow’s Child’ feels like a love letter to system culture.
‘Pass It Back’ hinges on a low slung beat and a stellar bassline, but even at her most direct ‘Voice Notes’ utilises a sense of the transcendent. Closer ‘Sea Glass’ ripples with spiritual jazz harp, a song that finds Yasmin Lacey making incredible use of space. Casting an ethereal glaze, it’s the perfect summation of an often-personal project.
Dubbed “a collection of my life” at times ‘Voice Notes’ takes on the feeling of visiting an art gallery – you pause for a moment at one work, absorbing it fully, before moving to the next. Yazmin Lacey’s curatorial skill sits alongside her painterly-like vocals, resulting in a bold, and emphatic album project.
Words: Robin Murray