SARAH FONTEYNE: Debut (Aesthetic Sounds)


Sarah Fonteyne is a classically trained singer from London. She also plays violin and piano and her musical influences, we’re told, range from J Dilla to Debussy and from Stevie Wonder to Nirvana! She runs and promotes a monthly London showcase – “Aesthetic Sounds” – where she performs along with featured guests like Terri Walker, Omar, Jaguar Wright and Ursula Rucker. That club night shares its name with the lady’s own record label on which she’s just released her first full album.

It’s a mildly interesting (chiefly) nu/neo soul set and Sarah has a decent soul voice – shades of the great Minnie Riperton in places, but, sadly, the set lacks the variety and range that you may well except considering her background and musical influences. Most of the material is stuck in the same mid-tempo, mellow, shuffle groove. ‘Everytime’, ‘Getaway’, ‘Jealous Eyes’ and ‘B.I.S.Y (Man Teef)’ are all much of a muchness and if they were segued into one track you wouldn’t notice. ‘Follow Your Dreams’ offers a little more by way of a quasi-inspirational monologue while ‘Beautiful’ has a pleasing melody… but if you’re a serious soul collector you’ll have heard it all before. The only tune that really stands out here is the bigger, brighter and much beatier ‘Messing’. This one almost takes off and shows lots of potential.

To create the album Sarah’s used some big name contemporary producers – amongst them Colin Emmanuel and James Yarde – but none have really looked closely enough at the songs. Generally, they lack focus and unfortunately don’t do justice to the talent that Sarah Fonteyne clearly possesses.

(BB) 3/5