New Orleans-based indie-jazz group Sweetheart released their EP Blood Moon at the end of 2019. The disc offers four tracks of well-executed performances. Electronica/dance fans will enjoy the first cut; vocal-jazz consumers will feel at home with the other three cuts.
The EP starts off, appropriately enough, with “Introduction.” This short instrumental track is made up of fuzzy synth sounds in jazz voicings, anchored by Rodney Weber’s in-the-pocket drumming. While it brings interesting sounds, it’s out of character with the rest of the EP; the other three tracks don’t sound anything like this.
After “Introduction,” the shift to “Blood Orange” is striking. While the modality of the music is similar, the instrumentation and feel is pure jazz-combo: guitar, bass, drums and vocals. The band is tight (especially Weber’s drum breaks), but it’s Saskia Walker’s vocals that make the track. She sings in Italian, and executes some wonderfully dextrous vocal lines, showing terrific control of her instrument. For those not in Rome, you could google-translate the sultry lyrics, but really there’s no need: just let her voice wash over you.
The theme continues on “Nowhere,” which evokes a late-night, smoky, stygian basement jazz lounge. After Walker’s mellifluous vocal, the band kicks it up a notch, first giving us Wyatt Pinto’s clean guitar solo over some crunchy chords. Then it’s Weber’s turn to shine again with his solo against layered vocal oohs. Walker returns to tag the song and it’s over--they pack a lot into two minutes!
The EP closes with “Kites” with some cool auto-wah guitar. It’s mixed a bit differently than the prior two tracks: here, Weber’s drums are more forward. It feels as if we’re sitting between his kick drum and his snare, and we can hear every cymbal strike clearly. It works well and is a nice contrast to the other cuts. The track itself moves along nicely, propelled by the bass figures, again with great work in Walker’s vocals.
Blood Moon is a very enjoyable spin. Sweetheart will give you exactly what you’re looking for, and more. Mix up that Manhattan, light the Dunhill, turn the lights down low and enjoy.
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