Camilla George's follow-up to her debut album Isang (Ubuntu, 2016) is, if anything, even better than her first. The record's title derives from a picture book of folktales by Virginia Hamilton portraying the plight of African slaves and how they could escape their oppression by flying back to their homeland. The titles of seven of the eight tracks directly reflect the subjects of enslavement and freedom. The eighth track, with its sympathetic lyrics ("How did I get so far gone? Where do I belong? And where in the world did I ever go wrong?") is, thematically, certainly relevant.
"Tappin The Land Turtle" is an instantly accessible, memorable and brilliant choice for the opener with Cherise Adams-Burnett powerful vocals clinching it. "He Lion, Bruh Bear, Bruh Rabbit" demonstrates George's sheer eloquence on alto, a veritable cascade of notes, telling her story. On "How Nehemiah Got Free," Daniel Casimir's ostinato bass line drives the number along whereas "Little Eight John," an airy ballad, sees George's thoughtful alto treading delicate footprints whilst the song is embellished by Cherise Adams-Burnett's dulcet voice.
The sprightly title track is defined by its memorable alto-led melody but, critically, it's underpinned by effervescent guitar work from Shirley Tetteh. As its title might suggest "The Most Useful Slave" is a sombre affair but is full of depth courtesy of George's sinewy alto. Curtis Mayfield's soulfully funky "Here But I'm Gone" features guest vocalist Omar Lye-Fook, along with Quentin Collins on trumpet who provides both ensemble and soloing fire power. It's as joyously catchy a closer as anyone could ask for. With this, only her second album to date, George proves here that she's rapidly maturing into one of the UK's finest altoists and composers.
Tappin The Land Turtle; He Lion, Bruh Bear, Bruh Rabbit; How Nehemiah Got Free; Little Eight
John; The People Could Fly; Carrying The Runnings Away;
The Most Useful Slave; Here But I'm Gone.
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