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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.

Essential.
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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 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 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 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 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 31 January 2014
This is a gem. I've rated it as four rather than five as a couple of the tracks are fillers, but most of them are wonderful - simple and beautiful harmonies and a bittersweet voice that seems to have lived an age, the sort of stuff that will have you pulling your car over and sobbing your heart out.
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on 9 April 2013
A new and Beautiful voice devoid of all the gimicky tripe. This Fantastic and surprising album! I thought it was another London trip but was gobbed by her voice and the overall sound of the album coming out of Manchester!!. A wonderful album, a beautiful voice to match a Lovely lady. Give it a listen!
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on 29 March 2015
A beautifully produced album with an eclectic mix of songs. A tad short at only 33 minutes but it’s more about quality than quantity.

All the songs are well written by this young talented singer song writer, somewhat off the mainstream of pop music.

Some of the songs have a jazz feel to them, ‘I think it was love’ and I pray that I move, where as ‘Original Love’ and the catchy ‘What a day’ have more of pop feel to them.

All in all a superb album by an artist that is vastly underrated. Can't wait for her next recording.
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