THE FLOACIST; Rise Of The Phoenix Mermaid (Shanachie)

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Since the demise of Floetry in 2007, Natalie Stewart, ‘The Floacist’, has been more prolific than her one-time partner Marsha Ambrosius. Natalie’s 2012 set, ‘Floetry; Rebirth’ was well-received and it successfully recreated the classic Floetry sound with Natalie providing both the rhymes (as she’d done in Floetry) and the vocal parts (which had been the preserve of Marsha). For her latest project the Floacist continues where ‘Rebirth’ left off with a 13 tracker that offers more of that same haunting mix of vocal and rhyme (maybe a bit more rhyming, this time though). Like that album (and indeed like most of the Floetry oeuvre) this LP uses song and flowing poetry to tackle issues close to Natalie’s heart – especially her Afro/Caribbean roots, materialism, the power and position of women, matriarchy and the importance of family. She also gets to deal with relationships – all the joy and all the pain… and through it all stressing how important it is for women to remain strong.

Yes – a heady and heavy mix, but Natalie delivers it with a gentle sensitivity that is somehow heightened by her charming (even quaint) London accent. Hear it at its best on ‘Broken Heart’. As the title suggests the song is about a serious break up. The rhymes flow over an urgent drum and bass backing with the Floacist reminding the protagonist that “no one ever died of a broken heart”. Many, I’m sure, could argue with that premise, but Natalie sounds convincing…as she does throughout. Try the mainly spoken ‘On It’. It’s inspirational, even offering to open up the secrets of meditation. ‘Grandma ‘ – with a Caribbean flavour – is another’s of the album’s best…. homage to her grandmother and to matriarchy in general.

There’s more feminine role model advice on ‘Womyn’ and the complex closer, ‘Mami Loves You’. That one is the album’s most adventurous track. Soundwise, it melds the feel of old style stage musicals with jazz flavours while lyrically it underlines the album’s recurring main theme……“walk like a queen, think like a goddess“. Deep, meaningful and yes meditative…. three adjectives that apply to the whole album.

(BB) 3/5