YOLANDA BROWN; April Showers May Flowers (Black Grape)

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Double-MOBO winning saxophonist Yolanda Brown is one of the UK’s best kept musical secrets but maybe on the back of this new album and with a nationwide tour in progress things might start to change. Yolanda’s clearly making the effort to broaden her appeal because ‘April Showers May Flowers’ is hugely accessible and varied and for the first time (I think) she gets to sing. The album boasts two vocals -‘Without You’ and ‘Bittersweet’ and I’m sure Ms B knows that she’s not going to give people like Aretha Franklin (or Corinne Bailey Rae for that matter) sleepless nights. The songs are unremarkable lightweight efforts… poppy and pleasant.

However, I know most people will come to the album for the lady’s sax skills (after all that’s what she’s won her awards for). Best of the instrumentals is the big, bright, jazzy ‘Fine Line’ – a pacey piece. For those who want soporific, the best bets are the Klemmer-esque ‘Nothing To Say’ and the romantic, lush ‘Heartbeat’. Elsewhere, ‘Dear John’ is slinky and soulful till the guitarist goes off on one to spoil the mood. ‘Tokyo Sunset’ (despite its name) has a reggae lilt while ‘Good Morning’ evokes the days of jazz fusion. Then there’s the broody ‘Today, Tomorrow’, and the stately ‘Yesterday’ – both offering audio homage to 60’s French cinema – intentional or otherwise. Like I said, plenty of variety and do check our news pages for a full list of Ms Brown’s current tour venues.

(BB) 3/5