‘SONG #21 (Sweet Dreams)’ opens with beautiful, ambient electric guitar chords and a laidback drum groove. The track fits with its title - it feels warm and sweet, and is a really accessible track. Yet, it’s still extremely musically interesting as Campbell subtly adds lots of interesting hits and fills without making the song too busy. The B section has some great chromatic harmony from the synths, and the return to the guitar melody creates a wholeness to the track which makes for a really satisfying listen. SONG #21 is definitely a feel-good, summery tune - and considering every track is written and produced by Campbell herself, it’s incredible to see the contrast between this piece and the other releases.
‘SONG #23 (Spaceships)’ opens with an unusual rhythmic idea, which moves into a really cool 7/4 groove and neo-soul synth chords. Fitting with the song’s title, the rhythmic ideas feel elliptical and the synth sound is cosmic. The track moves between 7/4 and 4/4, as Campbell challenges our rhythmic expectations - although many of the tracks feel experimental at times, their head-nodding grooves allow them to remain extremely accessible. In contrast, ‘SONG #24 (Fear Nothing)’ features electronic elements which challenge listeners and add grit to this track in a way we haven’t heard before. The drums are minimal in the opening, yet there is a clear sense of anticipation and tension - Campbell is showing us another, darker side to her writing. Caroline Davis solos on flute, using experimental sounds both tonally and melodically. SONG #24’s bass and electronic ideas feel as though they would fit into a drum and bass set as much as a jazz one - Campbell’s influences are clearly eclectic, and it adds to our curiosity surrounding her music.
Everyone who loves jazz and who loves music should go and listen to Romarna Campbell’s new releases, as there’s 25 very different tracks to choose from - what ties them together is Campbell’s incredible drumming and composing. Stylistically, Campbell’s writing reminds me of London jazz collectives like Ezra Collective and Kokoroko, yet her ideas are more experimental and expansive in many ways. Her perspective is refreshing, and it’s amazing to see her work begin to unfold. We can’t wait to hear her next release.
Review by Evie Hill