Lauren Desberg – Twenty First Century Problems review

Ignore what you may believe about the world of jazz; it is far from long gone. Tomorrow sees Harlem-based singer/songwriter Lauren Desberg release her debut full length Twenty First Century Problems, and though it may sound like the sort of record Iggy Azalea might produce, don’t be fooled by the title. Lauren has already seen worldwide radio play with a previous single, I Wanna Be Like You, as well as having played some of America’s most renowned jazz venues (NYC’s Blue Note, LA’s Catalina Bar and Grill and Boston’s Sculler).

After the instrumental heavy opening number Can’t Stop The Show, comes He Loves And She Loves which opens by directly asking the question, “is there a possibility of creating a kind of synthesis of jazz and the more popular forms of music?”; the other nine tracks on the offering answer with a resounding “yes”. As this track drifts into keys lead music and wild instrumental and the vocals layer up, there’s a scent of a modern twist on the style.

The husky edge to Lauren’s vocals that welcome Lie To Me alongside a trembling baseline further the modernised jazzy sound, soulful in the track’s texture. Synthesisers crop up in the opening of How Deep Is Your Love, which in turn blend seamlessly into the classic sound that emanates from the rest of the track; this is a perfect example of how the modern edge seems like an idea entertained in a vague manner, or tagged onto parts of the record with only a touch of depth. It’s executed well and the quality of production makes the transitions fit, but it’s an captivating path that should’ve been travelled further down.

A minute and a half blast in Lullaby of The Leaves appeals the stylistic vocals of jazz, before the strongest modern blast of the album comes along in the electronica opening of Rock Steady. Unfortunately the two don’t coexist so smoothly here, with one constantly overpowering the other leaving the opposing forces battling for breath.

Down With Love is a real gem on the record; polished, jovial and engaging, it’s one that appeals directly to the sort of new jazz sound you’d expect, honest to the style and flirting with the modern edge. Angel Eyes follows on from this, whilst understated Never Let Me Go proves powerful in its subtlety and fluid sound. Though this wind down would seem an apt closer, instead Try To Get Out takes that space, featuring a dancey keys solo to close the try and studio action which leaves the album feeling at a loose end.

I’m keen on the style that Lauren is pursuing, the updated jazz sound is one that would work sublimely, and at times on the album it manages to, but too often it feels jarring, stunted and too contrasting to blend properly.

You can stream He Loves And She Loves below.

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