SOMI: If The Rains Come (Label: Obliq Sounds)

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SOMI: If The Rains Come

Somi is an African singer currently working out of New York and ‘If The Rains Come First’ is her third album. Like the previous two (‘Eternal Motive’ and ‘Red Soil In My Eyes’), ‘If The Rain Comes’ has its roots in African music and tradition but the music itself has a languid and beguiling charm that will appeal to jazz vocal fans who admire the likes of Dianne Reeves and soul buffs who get off on Sade. The album has that kind of feel about it – gentle and understated but with a keen and definite edge that is apparent right from the opening ‘Hot Blue’. This one boasts a pretty melody and some sweet double tracked harmonies. ‘Wallflower Blues’ and ‘Prayer To The Saint Of The Broken-hearted’ offer more of the same and both are decidedly more upbeat than their reflective titles might suggest. ‘Be Careful, Be Kind’ is gentler still – even placid, as is the LP’s closer – ‘Maybe Then’ (listen out for the superb harmonies on this one). “Meditative”, “haunting” and “introspective” would be good adjectives to describe both those cuts – but then again they could apply to the whole album – even to the LP’s most immediate tracks – the title cut and the insidious ‘Enganjyani’ which features Hugh Masekela’s wonderful muted horn. That one, by the way, is one of three songs partly sung in an East African patois – which only adds to the mystical and ethereal feel of the work. Somi calls her music “new African soul”; for sure, there’s soul-a-plenty in the eleven tracker – but, it’s not just about soul. ‘If The Rain Comes’ is a thinking person’s music. We’ve already made comparison to Dianne Reeves and Sade – to those I’d add Carmen Lundy. Like that great lady of jazz, Somi crafts complicated yet simple music… listening will let you understand the conundrum.
(BB) 4/5