Brandee Younger

Brand New Life

Impulse! • 2023

In jazz, the harp tends to play an outsider role. Despite having prominent advocates like Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby. Today, a small harp revival is taking place with musicians like Alina Bzhezhinska, Kathrin Pechlof and, above all, Brandee Younger. »Brand New Life« is Younger’s second album for the label Impulse!, and on it she looks back just as much as she looks forward. If »Somewhere Different« which was released two years ago still remained a little indecisive between light rock fusion and soulful jazz, this time Younger mixes the styles even more confidently and successfully, with a tribute to her colleague Ashby, who died in 1986, and who wrote half of the compositions. 

When Younger takes a bow, she likes to be impressionistic, but also allows herself discreet hip-hop breaks when required, as programmed by Pete Rock, like on »Livin’ and Lovin’ in My Own Way«. There are also real drums, served up by the visionary, variable Makaya McCraven. And on Ashby’s »Dust«, with a reggae flavour by Younger, Meshell Ndegeocello takes over the vocals in her unaffectedly delicate style. In general, the length of the pieces is oriented towards the song format, so that the performers don’t even come up with the idea of getting bogged down in solos. After all, Brandee Younger doesn’t need to fiddle around with any interludes to prove her virtuosity. Her brilliance lies in her elegant restraint. Until the very end, when she surrenders herself completely to the song in a solo version of Stevie Wonder’s »If It’s Magic«. An unassuming triumph.