‘Gifts & Sacrifices’ – Heidi Martin

Gifts & Sacrifices is the follow-up to Heidi Martin’s debut album release Hide. Heidi describes her new album in the following way:

Gifts & Sacrifices asks questions about the under examined social issues in humanity and within ourselves, and with our lovers. I share my best poetic guess to why things have unravelled in the ways I perceive they have …

The album is made up of nine tracks, all written by Martin and were recorded at the GSI Studios in New York during June of 2021, with the first being ‘Memphis’ with its jazz soul feel. Very good use of the sparse trumpet playing of Josh Evans and Raymond Angry on keys. The lyrics, overall, are good and well sung with the added vocals of Paige Brown giving a good tonal contrast to the voice of Heidi Martin. However, there is a repeated vocal lyric, which I have not been able to discern, that is, in my opinion, too often repeated and despite variations in tone and delivery my boredom threshold was being nudged. ‘Africa Waltz’ has some terrific sax and trumpet playing from Tim Warfield and Josh Evans respectively supported by very enjoyable drum patterns from Eric Harland. Another strong vocal performance from Heidi on this punchy tune.

‘I’m Still Afraid of The Devil’ opens with the guitar of Paul Bollenback and crashing cymbals from Eric Harland. Tarus Mateen gets to show his skills as a bass player on this pared back number that works very well. The listener is left to focus on Heidi Martin’s application of her tonal palette and the outcome kept me engaged throughout. ‘Moon in Scorpio’ has a lovely laid-back feel to it with soft keyboard playing from Raymond Angry. Unfortunately, for me, the use again of a too oft repeated lyric (this time the song’s title) took the edge of what could have been a good tune.

‘I Love You in Every Language’ is what I would describe as a contemporary R&B number with good bass, guitar, and drums lines augmented by the keyboard playing of Raymond Angry. The next track ‘Given to The Left’ is a more up-beat number with a well-played rhythmic through line filled out by the guitar playing Paul Bollenback. ‘Come Passion’ has a light Latin vibe about it and is sung brightly by Heidi Martin. The guitar playing on this number is perhaps my favourite of what I have heard so far and I very much enjoyed the feel of this tune.

‘My Father Left Us for The Moon’ starts with the gentle playing of Raymond Angry. The trumpet of Josh Evans and sax of Tim Warfield are used to very good effect and I think this is Heidi’s strongest vocal number. The contrast between her voice, sax, and trumpet is very successful and, possibly, gives this tune a nudge towards being the outstanding track on the album. The final track goes to ‘Rice’ with its funk undertones, strong vocal presentation, and good sax lines from Tim Warfield. While I am sure there is a strong message about colour in the lyrics, the way in which it is presented I could not help but remember back to Streetband’s 1978 hit ‘Toast’ with vocalist Paul Young.

Gifts & Sacrifices is not a jazz album, but it does have some very good jazz playing within its structure. Josh Evans and Tim Warfield play well when called upon to do so and give the tunes they play added depth and colour. Heidi Martin predominately sings in the upper register, and I should have like to have heard more of her vocal range. Her lyrics can be powerful and thought provoking and that can only be a good thing.

Musicians: Heidi Martin – vocals; Raymond Angry – keys; Paul Bollenback – guitar; Tarus Mateen – bass; Josh Evans – trumpet; Tim Warfield – sax; Eric Harland – drums; Paige Brown – vocals.

Tracklist: 1. Memphis. 2. Africa Waltz. 3. I’m Still Afraid of The Devil. 4.Moon in Scorpio. 5. I Love You in Every Language. 6. Given to The Left. 7. Come Passion. 8.My Father Left Us for The Moon. 9. Rice.

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