It’s been 10 years since singer Sara Colman released her debut album Spellbound, so the title of this follow-up is more than a little ironic. If there’s another solo vocal album released by a UK jazz artist this year that supplies a bigger sugar-rush of auditory pleasure than Ready, I’ll eat the next Jazzwise covermount CD. A genre-straddling 11 track collection, Colman brilliantly twists Walter Becker’s ‘Book of Liars’ to her own purpose, summons up a hugely seductive palette of sound on Jimmy Van Heusen’s ‘I Thought About You’, and makes ‘I’m Beginning To See The Light’ fizz with excitement.
Having spent 10 years with The Passion in the company of Liane Carroll and Jacqui Dankworth (the group’s sole release One Good Reason is well worth getting hold of), Colman profitably channels the former’s emotional sincerity and the latter’s melodic eloquence. A brace of Colman originals, ‘Rock’ (shortlisted for BBC Radio 2’s songwriting competition Sold on Song) and ‘Get You Gone’, are as fine as anything else on the album.
– Peter Quinn
Vortex Jazz Club, London
By beginning her performance with songs by Dan Hartman (‘How Do You Stop’, once covered by Joni Mitchell on Turbulent Indigo), Stealer’s Wheel (‘Stuck in the Middle with You’) and Walter Becker (‘Book of Liars’), Birmingham-based singer Sara Colman immediately established herself as a woman of taste and discernment, and in pianist Jamil Sheriff, bassist Ben Markland and drummer Carl Hemmingsley she has a punchy but sensitive band, so it was a little disappointing that the club was not fuller to witness the launch of her debut CD, Ready (Qnote Records), which also kicks off with these three songs.
Colman has a strong but unaffected voice, at once capable of pleasing soulful stridency and confiding intimacy (utilised to full effect on her original compositions, sung to her own piano accompaniment), plus a jazz singer’s sensibility (evident on her up-tempo visit to the Ellington classic ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light’ and Jimmy Van Heusen’s ‘I Thought About You’), so is well equipped to entertain, and (considerably aided by a relaxed and refreshingly straightforward stage manner), entertain she did, demonstrating, in the process, the truth of Ian Shaw’s pronouncement on her: ‘A naturally soulful and emotionally true voice, connecting you and drawing you in’.
– Chris Parker
The Birmingham Post
Album Launch review
“Audience in the palm of her hand”
It’s not easy being a singer.
First of all there is no external instrument to help produce the right sound; the singer is the instrument. Then there are those twisting and turning melody lines to negotiate. And to top it all there are these pesky things called lyrics. There are countless singers who, blessed with good vocal cords and a good musical memory, are able to master those first two steps.
But it’s the special few who make sense of step three. And Sara Colman is one of those. She doesn’t just make a lovely sound floating over the surface of melody and words; she takes up residence in the song. And her musical home has many rooms – jazz standards like I’m beginning to see the light, contemporary songs by Joni Mitchell, Walter Becker and India Arie, her own songs, and those of friends like Jacqui Dankworth. They have striking images in them – stars implode, there are subliminal messages on the TV – and they centre, of course, upon the euphoria and despair that are integral to affairs of the heart.
This gig, in the intimate smaller room at the Glee Club, was to launch her new album called Ready on the Qnote label. With a trio of Chris Taylor on piano, Ben Markland on bass and Carl Hemmingsly on drums, Sara worked her way through the album, showing that what they did in the studio they can do on stage, with great character and finesse.
I think it’s also a measure of her musical stature and personable warmth that Sara inspires musicians so – this was a band playing at the top of its game. Great sound, great room, audience in the palm of her hand. An unqualified success.
– Peter Bacon