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4.7 out of 5 stars60
4.7 out of 5 stars
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I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this wonderful album.
Josephine Oniyama is a singer/songwriter from Manchester who
seems to have burst into the listening world fully-formed with
her accomplished debut recording 'Portrait'. She has a simply
beautiful voice : calm, centered and completely unaffected.
The kind of voice which, in a curiously old-fashioned way, would
have sounded perfectly at home in any of the last five decades.

There are ten songs in the collection which demonstrate a deft
facility with both words and melody. An easy naturalness and
warmth permeates each and every one one them. The uncluttered
arrangements are a model of restrained musicality, the better
to support the gentle drama of her gorgeous vocal performances.

The soft drone and simple piano part of the folksy opening track
'When We Were Trespassers' is somewhat redolent of some of the late,
great David Ackles finest inventions. A song which frames the
perfect melancholy of Ms Oniyama's subtle vibrato and rich delivery.
A truly sublime creation and alone worth the price of the album.
Further joys include the string-infused, sixties-scented title track
'Portrait' (just loving the plaintive half-heard harmonica part!);
the spare and somewhat bluesy minor-key number 'I Think It Was Love',
which sports a wonderfully moody and affecting vocal; 'Pepper Shaker',
a fidgety upbeat number which finds Ms Oniyama flexing her muscles and
delivering an impressively powerful turn and the lovely final track
'House Of Mirrors' whose lilting waltz-time rhythm and delightful tune
would not have sounded out of place in a Stephen Sondheim musical.

Whatever you do don't let this very special album pass you by.

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on 1 May 2014
Josephine's "Portrait" album is the best album of new music I've heard in the last 10 years (I said that about Camilla Kerslake's first album a few years ago, but this is even better than than), and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. So many influences in there but all delivered in Josephine's fresh, imaginative, unique style. And what an incredible voice.

My favourite track? Only by a whisker I'd say "Last Minute". The other 9 songs, while different styles are equally as strong but there's something about "Last Minute" that makes my spine tingle. Every time I hear it.

Josephine deserves to be as big as Adele. I've owned this album for a little over a year now, and it rates as one of my all time favourites. I've been buying music since 1971 and have a large collection. Portrait has now become one of my Top Ten favourite albums of all time.

Congratulations and thanks for an album that couldn't be any better, I'm really looking forward to the next one. Would love to see her live too.
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on 29 October 2012
Josephine Oniyama is the artist here - singing on all 10 tracks, playing guitar and writing/co-writing all songs. The first thing to note is that she has a very strong distinctive clear/soulful voice that suits both ballads and more upbeat numbers.
In terms of song writing, Josephine is credited with 2 sole writes, 2 with Ed Harcourt, 3 with Leo Abrahams, 1 with Crispin Hunt, 1 with Jimmy Hogarth, 1 with Stew Jackson/Quartey. There are at least 15 supporting musicians across the various tracks including several different rhythm sections.
There are 3-4 very good tracks here (eg. A FREAK A, I Think It Was Love and Last Minute) and a few OK ones but, for me, several tracks can be skipped. There's an excellent 16 page booklet in the pack containing full lyrics / details of who is playing on each track - always to be welcomed. The 10 songs cover a little under 34 minutes.
An enjoyable little listen from a clearly a talented performer with a base of good songs but maybe would benefit from more consistency of material (and maybe a fewer/closer accompanying musicians).
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on 18 June 2013
I discovered Josephine by chance via one of those you-bought-that-so-you-might-like-this recommendations and I'm so glad I did. The BBC review above is pretty accurate, so rather than vainly try to improve on it I'd just like to reiterate that this is an amazing voice singing accomplished songs. Why is this woman not a major star?
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on 18 September 2013
A wonderful CD from a new vocalist.

If this is just the beginning of her career then we are very lucky to be able to experience what is to come.

Highly, highly recommended to anyone who loves great music.
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on 31 October 2012
Josephine's voice is the star of this outstanding album. Everything about it is perfect. Pitch, tone, clarity, timing, range, articulation, dynamics ... she has it all and the combined effect is spine-tingling.

On the evidence of this outing, Josephine is the best UK singer I have heard in a very long time. It doesn't get much better than this. I cannot wait to hear her sing at a live performance.

The standard of songwriting and production isn't far behind. Although this is definitely an album that is better than the sum of its parts, every song is worthy of inclusion; there are no fillers here.

What does the album sound like? Think of a vocalist with the clarity and precision of Dusty Springfield, crossed with the earthiness and soul of Shara Nelson (Massive Attack, Unfinished Sympathy), fronting The Smiths. Unique, and very, very good.

Highly recommended.
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on 9 March 2013
I had only heard just one track when I decided to order this CD... Then, after a first entire playing, I remember thinking "not bad stuff really, but it's not my type of music". About two weeks later, I had already played it 2 or 3 times a day - and I still do several times a week.
Josephine is NOT an umpteenth Soul or Folk singer, as a few people stupidly wrote in the press. In fact she is no Soul singer at all, nor a Folk singer either, Instead she is a genuine singer-songwriter who has been able to blend all she has been influenced by with her own feelings and experience of life, and the result is impressive. Indeed, a new style is born, and it will be a long time until I get tired of playing this CD. Let's just hope that the next one will not be spoilt by overproduction and an excess of synthetizers.
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on 15 April 2013
The last time we saw Josephine was at the Manchester Museum, several years ago, singing a great set in the cafe. We knew she was going to be a success, her voice and the way she sang was lovely and unique. Her approach to her songs is so individual and elegant and assured. Watching her progress through the performances from her earliest through Jools and then on the radio, we know she'll be around for a long time.

It's just the icing on the cake that Mike was her art teacher in high school. It's not often that you get to see someone with such talent grow from young woman to polished performer. Delighted doesn't even begin to describe it.
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on 9 October 2012
Once in a while a new artist emerges on the music scene with a record that is different, Unique, Timeless. JOSEPHINE's Portrait certainly is. If you like The Orchard by LIZZ WRIGHT and Standing Still by RUBY AMANFU.
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on 11 April 2013
I normally don't submit reviews of albums i purchase but this album is the best thing i have heard in a long time- if you only buy one album this year buy this as it will blow you away!!!
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