Thursday night’s gig at Rich Mix in Shoreditch was a bit of a homecoming concert for Lacey.
Lacey’s career began when she was picked up by Gilles Peterson’s Future Bubblers project, so she is currently based in Nottingham. However, she grew up in East London and her music fits perfectly with the pot of nu-jazz acts that are boiling away in the city at the moment.
Perhaps this is why South London beatmaker Wu-Lu, whose set sounds like what the Gorrillaz’s first album might have if DJ Shadow had caught Damon Albarn and trapped him in his attic, was chosen to support. The producer, whose excellent EP NAIS came out recently, is like a friendly spider at the centre of a web that’s been spun between all the different branches of the London Jazz scene: he has been affiliated with almost everyone from Andrew Ashong to Oscar Jerome to Touching Bass to Poppy Ajudha. His presence at the gig reinforces Yazmin Lacey’s connection to the scene which although geographically distant, is definitely where her roots lie.
Not that Yazmin Lacey’s presence needs much reinforcing. Her band are tight and her voice manages to be both forceful and gentle. On songs like her recent single ‘90 Degrees’, her singing sounded almost like two voices in unison, one trebly and direct like Badu’s or Winehouse’s, the other soft and smoky. My one criticism is that although her vocal performance is deeply textured and unique, it lacks a climactic moment; part of me leaves wishing she’d let it rip a bit. But Lacey is an artist who has been open about her efforts to overcome stage fright and I’m sure those moments will come in time.
There was a beautiful moment towards the end of her set where the audience took over vocal duties from Lacey on the second line of ‘Black Moon’. The love in the room is too much for Yazmin who stops mid-phrase, overwhelmed by the response, whilst the audience kept going until the end.
By Josef Clark