Nana Rashid releases ‘Music For Betty’

I know, and can find, very little about Nana Rashid. I know that she is a Danish singer songwriter who released, independently, an EP, ‘Sorrow In Sunlight’, back in 2016. I know that she is signed to April Records and it is another label signing, the jazz trio Little North, who provide the backing to Rashid’s vocals.

The album opens with ‘Poor Blue Betty, a slow blues styles number with a powerful piano accompaniment. Rashid’s voice is clear, emotionally connected to the lyrics and delivered with first-class phraseology. The trio’s playing works very well with the vocal style and anchors the tune’s melody over-which Rashid weaves her plaintive lyrics. The ballad ‘Goodbye My Love’ starts with voice and piano and is spacious in its structure with all the emphasis on the words being sung. The bass then adds its voice before the trio take the lead and play out on the jazz tinged melody.

Photos by Thomas Degner

Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen on bass provides the lines to which Rashid adds a simply wonderful sounding vocal that shows how well she uses her vocal range. The piano and drums join in much later in the track where everything is played with a delicate touch to match the mood created by the sparse melody. ‘Mother, Father’ has a laid-back groove set out by drummer Lasse Jacobsen set against a more insistent piano and bass delivery. There is an energy to this number that grows as the track develops and the sound becomes pulsatingly urgent and vibrant.

‘No Moon At All’ is another ballad with a good melody, lightness of touch and spacious lyrical delivery. However, that is not to say that the song does not come without touches of drama, which are provided by the piano of Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen and Rashid’s soaring vocals. Traci Colleen Hale and Sade wrote ‘Pearls’ for Sade’s Love Deluxe album release back in 1992. This portrayal of that song is so powerful and, for me, conveys the lyrics with a more personal connection than the original. I also feel that the trio backing is much more sympathetic to the emotional integrity of the song, which, when combined with Nana Rashid’s incredible vocals, make this the album’s standout track.

‘They Call It Love’ has a torch song feel about it, a call to arms for women who feel trapped. This is another powerful delivery both in terms of the musicality and the lyrical content. Music For Betty closes with ‘Some Other Love’ with its very nice bass line opening. This tune has a cinematic feel about it, very relaxed with a delightful vocal tone and a well-balanced accompaniment from the Little North Trio. Another ballad, softer lyrically but whose meaning comes from a lived experience and a hope that there is still more out there should it need to be found.

Telling stories with maturity, confidence, and style, Nana Rashid’s captivating voice draws the listener in and takes them on a journey through the innermost thoughts and feelings that make up this compelling debut album which provides a fresh take on how modern Scandinavian vocal jazz can sound today.

This is a very compelling debut album from a fine vocalist with an exceptional backing trio. I whole heartedly applaud the brevity of Music For Betty – less really is more in this case! The trio setting works very well helping to produce a balanced, vocal led, album of powerfully emotive music. I have no idea how long Nana Rashid has been singing, but this album is mature in content and delivery and if this really is an example of ‘how modern Scandinavian vocal jazz can sound today’ then we really are being spoilt.

Music For Betty can be found at Bandcamp and is released Friday, 14th March, 2023

Tracklist: 1. Poor Blue Betty. 2. Goodbye My Love. 3. Johnny Guitar. 4. Mother, Father. 5. No Moon At All. 6. Pearls. 7. They Call It Love. 8. Some Other Love.

Musicians: Nana Rashid – vocals; Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen – piano; Lasse Jacobsen – drums; Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen – bass.

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