LINDSEY WEBSTER; Reasons (Shanachie)

Since she broke through in 2016, Woodstock’s LINDSEY WEBSTER has created a lovely little niche for herself. Ably supported by her long time musical partner (and ex-husband), Keith Slattery, she’s crafted a sound that sits beautifully on the cusp of smooth jazz and sophisticated soul – a sound that in the past has encouraged fans and pundits to make comparison to Sade. Indeed back in 2016, Ms Webster became the first vocalist to hit #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts since Ms Adu. Some coincidence!

However, since 2016’s ‘Back To Your Heart, Lindsey’s sound has evolved slowly and steadily. It’s still smooth and sophisticated but listen in to this new 12 tracker and you’ll hear some subtle changes. For starters the productions are a tad more ambitious and Lindsey’s status is such that she can call on some big names to help her out. Those changes were apparent on the album-heralding single, a heartfelt, ‘Stay With Me’. Here there was some sweet and lovely flugelhorn flavouring from jazz giant Randy Brecker and wait for it, there was even a rap! Lindsey brought in Oakland muso Kev Choice to add some organic rhyming for extra impact. The cut is, of course, included on the album but for the more conservative there’s also a “Soul Jazz” mix. Rap free, it  gives a little more prominence to the flugelhorn solo.

Amongst the other featured guests are horn man Brian Culbertson who’s there on the strong opener ‘I Didn’t Mean It’, bassist Nathan East who’s solo on ‘Love Of Your Life’ is a delight and Nicholas Payton whose trumpet is a feature on the sedate beater that is ‘I’m OK’. Best of the ballads is the stark and melancholic ‘Just The Night’ – a double tracked vocal heightens the desired effect. At the other end of the sonic scale is the brass laden ‘Wish You Well’ – the great brass work here might recall  Tower of Power in their more mellow moments and it’s a lovely foil to Lindsey’s (in places) hushed vocals. It’s the album’s most ambitious production and it really works. Much more intimate is the short ‘4 am Interlude’ which sort of sums up the art of Lindsay Webster. She creates a music that is both intimate and easy to identify with especially in those wee small hours with or without that significant other.

2022 has been a rotten year (mentioning no names, Putin!) and it’s all set to get worse economically but there’s maybe a little comfort in the fact that the year has seen the release of some great soul albums. Now we can add Lindsey Webster’s ‘Reasons’ to that 2022 Roll Of Honour. We know music doesn’t solve everything but it can sure help, if only for a short time!

(BB) 5/5