Brandee Younger releases Somewhere Different, a terrific demonstration of the harp’s capabilities and versatility.
The album covers an impressively wide range of genres and sounds from classical to hip-hop to jazz, all whilst placing her beautiful instrument in various roles; both through collaborating with other soloists and taking centre stage. Somewhere Different aims to capture the transition of darkness to light during the Winter months of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout these dreamy sound worlds, however, the music remains grounded and Younger’s artistic voice never fails to shine through.
Younger opens the album with Reclamation: a collaborative work, in which the harp provides accompanying ostinati and general grounding, allowing for other soloists to take centre stage. Nevertheless, Reclamation allows Younger to demonstrate the harp’s versatility providing glissandi, chords, melodic work and extended techniques.
In the title track, Somewhere Different, Younger takes centre stage, as the classically-infused opening acts as a springboard into a tranquil, dream-like summery journey; in which the harp remains ever lyrical and wistful. On Olivia Benson and Tickled Pink, however, Younger’s playing is notably cheekier and slicker, tapping into a soloistic voice of a different shade.
While Younger excels at demonstrating her instrument’s capabilities, she also works well with collaborating artists. Reclamation boasts a gorgeous meandering theme played by flute and sax, that shifts and slides in a forward motion that is pacey and exciting. Conversely, Younger collaborates with artists on Spirit U Will to create a laid-back groove with an undulating melody, packed with jazz-inflected syncopation and cross-rhythms.
Arguably the most successful collaboration on Somewhere Different is with vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball on Pretend. This peaceful, meditative ambiance is complimented by beautifully buttery modulations that effortlessly slide between one another, shading the music with new colours and ideas. Moreover, both the vocals and rap are low tessitura, creating an intimate and intense vibe. Similar effortlessness is conveyed on Beautiful Is Black, as the entrancing metre changes subtly, capturing our interest for the full seven minutes.
What binds all eight tracks together is their ability to transport you to a different realm for a short while. Whether that’s lying in a park on a sunny day or letting sound wash over you in a dimly lit jazz club, Brandee Younger and her music can effortlessly recreate any atmosphere. Each of these extensive tracks are cleverly titled and artistically executed, with a clear degree of care and thought going into the finer details and overall sound world.