This is jazz singer Juliet Kelly's new album, which features a stunning collection of her laid back accessible songs, featuring guest appearances by Courtney Pine, Byron Wallen, Omar Puente, Kate Williams and Roger Beaujolais.
Second albums can be a disappointment. Too often an artist's best ideas evaporate after their first record, but that's not the case here. Londoner Juliet Kelly's second album proves that she's on an upward curve as a singer/songwriter. Like most long-loved albums Delicious Chemistry demands repeated listening before you're hooked, but then you'll want to play it to everyone you know.
Juliet doesn't regard her self-penned songs as 'dark', she says they're 'uplifting melancholy'. This is one positive woman! She sends ex-lovers packing without blame in "I Wish You Love" and "Letting You Go", but sets her to-the-point lyrics against ominous melodies. Seb Rochford and Tom Barlow, highly respected London-scene jazzers and the mainstay of her first album, are back again to weave their haunting fabric of bass and drums. Dense, complex vocal harmonies ooze through "Letting You Go", Seb's drums dancing around the bass as it hits you right in the groin chakra.
While the rhythm section remains the same, eminent guests make Delicious Chemistry a varied and satisfying listen. Byron Wallen plays a haunting trumpet solo on the smooth-funk "Secret", and Omar Puente - the brilliant Cuban violinist - lights up "Guardian Angel" with a melancholy and persistence that sustains Juliet's mantra 'keep believing in yourself'. On "Alone Again" Roger Beaujolais gets spooky on the vibes, while Juliet's yearning molasses voice and the strikingly simpleinstrumentation invite comparisons with Cassandra Wilson.
Most of Juliet's songs come to her fully formed in dreams. "Unicorn Dream" is one of these and has the airy feel of a Scandinavian piece. Tick-tock drums, Carl Orr's exceptionally light touch on guitar and Juliet's controlled and beautiful vocals are a hypnotic combination. In contrast, "Parallel Universe" is a catchy song with the hallmarks of a foot-tapping standard. It was inspired by Sliding Doors, a film about a life extrapolated in 2 directions, and Juliet draws the words and rhythm out like chewing gum. Result - a perfect amalgam of vivid image and mournful Latin soundtrack.
In Delicious Chemistry the elements of restrained instrumentation, intelligent arrangement and superbly controlled vocals come together into a powerful compound. File under 'self-development soul/jazz' and give a copy to a friend in need. --Kathryn Shackleton
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