Ashleigh Smith – Sunkissed (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 35:32 minutes | 795 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Digital booklet | © Concord
To follow up her victory at the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocals Competition, Ashleigh Smith releases her debut solo album Sunkissed, a blend of original songs she co-wrote and carefully chosen covers. While her iridescent alto is capable of tackling material underscored by darker themes such as heartache and sobering social commentary, optimistic rays of light always shine through her voice. The musicians accompanying her and most of Smith’s writing partners were fellow classmates of hers from the University of North Texas, where she studied jazz.
Ashleigh Smith’s full-length debut album, 2016’s Sunkissed, is a languid, sophisticated combination of jazz and R&B that beautifully exhibits Smith’s warmly resonant vocals. A graduate of the University of North Texas and winner of the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, Smith is a gifted singer with a burnished, romantic vocal style. While contemporary in tone, Smith is clearly as adept at delivering a jazz standard as she is a more modern pop tune. Produced by Chris Dunn and Nigel Rivers (who also handles most of the arranging), Sunkissed features a mix of originals and well-chosen pop covers reworked here with a nuanced and expansive soul-jazz style. Cuts like Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile” and the Beatles’ “Blackbird” are transformed by Smith and her bandmates into flowing, harmonically rich grooves that touch upon the passionate R&B of Alicia Keys, the ’70s soul of Stevie Wonder, and the forward-thinking jazz of Esperanza Spalding. Interestingly, Smith doesn’t lock herself into the past – she delivers an inspired, orchestral soul reading of former boss (whom she sang backup for) Chrisette Michele’s “Love Is You.” Similarly, Smith’s originals, including the Latin-tinged “Best Friends” and the horn-driven “Into the Blue,” are highlights that display her broad stylistic range. While Smith certainly has chops to spare as evidenced by her multi-tracked vocal harmonies on the classic standard “Pure Imagination,” she generally sings in an understated, supple style that makes for a relaxing and intimate listening experience. In the end, it’s Smith’s relaxed warmth on Sunkissed that leaves you feeling good.
01 – Best Friends
02 – Sara Smile
03 – The World Is Calling
04 – Love Is You
05 – Blackbird
06 – Sunkissed
07 – Into The Blue
08 – Brokenhearted Girl
09 – Beautiful And True
10 – Pure Imagination