EP REVIEW: Queen Bonobo – Sail From This Life

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EP REVIEW: Queen Bonobo – Sail From This Life

Blending tints of jazz with folk music, Queen Bonobo, aka Maya Goldblum, recently released her latest EP, Sail From This Life.

The genesis of the EP occurred when Queen Bonobo, a native of Idaho, moved to Ireland in 2016 to immerse herself in the music of her ancestors. While in Derry, without warning, she met the love of her life, Jack Charles Kelly. Recorded the week before she left Ireland, the EP reveals the impact living abroad had on not only her music but her person, enabling her to jettison her fears, doubts, and self-judgement – essentially how to get out of her own way.

Appearing on the EP are Jack Kelly (double bass, co-producer), Andrew McCoubrey (drums, percussion, co-producer, mixing), James Anderson (drums, percussion), Joleen McClaughlin (harp), and Neil Burns (Rhodes). Peter Baldwin handled engineering, while Fergal Davis mastered the EP.

Embracing three tracks, the EP begins with “Throw Me In,” a song about the loneliness and alienation she first experienced upon arriving in Ireland. The lyrics sum up her initial feelings: “So far across the ocean, and I barely know the way.”

The track opens on a light acoustic guitar topped by Queen Bonobo’s unique voice, vaguely reminiscent of Janis Joplin, aquiver with raw yet evocative tones. A rasping cello infuses the harmonics with tension-laced brackets, adding edginess.

“Octopus Lady” reflects Queen Bonobo’s fear of judgment from others. She was dancing at The Sea Monster when realized she either needed to leave the dance floor or let herself go and be free.

Quavering with discordant timbres, “Octopus Lady” rides splatters of percussion as Queen Bonobo’s voice trembles with vulnerability. Rife with fusion jazz flavours, the tune rolls out on destabilizing colouration, mirroring the emotional tentacles of anxiety.

“Summer Drift” rides Kelly’s vibrating double bass, syncopated percussion, and a dipping cello enveloped by the drifting harp. The core of the song encompasses softly glowing harmonies while Queen Bonobo’s gospel-tinged voice sings out, “Change is coming.”

The amalgam of folk and jazz savours imparts Sail From This Life with intrepid sonic extracts, unveiling Queen Bonobo’s cap-a-pie personal and musical transformation.

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