As the de facto singer on Alexander Nut’s Eglo Records label, Fatima has become the soulful voice of a lot of the label’s output whether it’s on a collab with Funkineven as ‘Phoneline’ or along with producer Floating Points and his ensemble.
The Swedish/London-based singer, whose singing credentials are well established by now, has worked with Dam Funk and Onra and Dorian Concept too so expecting a new-electronic soul record for her long playing debut wouldn’t be unrealistic.
Yellow Memories isn’t exactly that. It leans closer to a beautiful modern soul record than an electronic-lead release but there enough of those kinds of collaborators that give it some of that flavour.
Floating Points provides five of the album’s main productions and rather than offer wholesale beats or off-cuts, the tracks are custom-fitting live rich new-soul arrangements. Opener ‘Do Better’ reveals itself with a gorgeous ’70s NY horn and flute flourish; classic blue-eyed soul orchestration, courtesy of Floating Points ensemble and is a suitable fit for Fatima’s Jill Scott-esque lilt.
Later, ‘Biggest Joke Of All’ has a classic jazz/soul signature sound while things get more late-night for album closer cuts ‘Talk’ and ‘Gave Me My Name’ – a song about Fatima’s estranged father.
The album is a mix of that old-school style and nods to modern U.S. hip-hop Dilla beats as heard on the Oh No produced ‘Technology’ (Oh No is Madlib’s brother), the squelch-funk of ‘Circle’ authored by Computer Jay/Shafiq Husayn and the Kendrick Lamar collaborator Scoop DeVille-assisted ‘Ridin Round (Sky High)’.
Those songs serve the long-player well by offering other angles but it’s perhaps London-based Flako who gets closest to a perfect synergy to Fatima’s honeyed voice (with the exception of the ’70s rolling opener ‘Do Better’). The one two of ‘Family’ and ‘La Neta’ at the centre of the record manages to sound both classic and modern: thanks to some innovative rhythmic touches – ‘Family’ goes into double time handclap sections that lift both the singer and the song; ‘La Neta’ has some synth-soul R&B to its composition driven by a simple bassline that sets off a nice instrumental run.
It’s Fatima Bramme Sey that is topline star of the show though. Her debut album was overdue but the result is one of the best soul records of the year from a singer with range, emotion and access to some of electronic and hip-hop’s best producers.
Fatima – Yellow Memories tracklisting
1. Do Better – Prod. Floating Points
2. Technology – Prod. Oh No
3. Circle – Prod. Computer Jay ft.
4. Sun, Star, Solar
5. Ridin Round (Sky High) – Prod. Scoop DeVille
6. Family – Prod. Flako
7. La neta – Prod. Flako
8. Biggest Joke Of All – Prod. Floating Points
9. Underwater – Prod. Floating Points
10. Rest In Peace
11. Talk – Prod. Floating Points
12. Gave Me My Name – Prod. Floating Points