In 2011 Chicago resident Sarah Marie Young won the Shure Montreux Vocal competition judged by Quincy Jones and used the prize, a week at the Balik farm Studio in Switzerland, to record her first album of original material, but now she’s signed to Dutch label SnipRecords and has just released her new album Little Candy Heart.

The album was recorded over two days in July in Chicago, which is pretty amazing given the quality of the recording, using local musicians Stu Mindeman on keys, Kyle Asche on guitar, Bryan Doherty on bass and Leslie Beukelman and Allison Orobia taking care of backing vocals.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this record, other than knowing I’ve enjoyed the previous output on SnipRecords, but as soon as I hit play it was clear this was a little different. I was expecting jazz vocals, and yes in its broadest sense Little Candy Heart could easily be pigeonholed as a vocal jazz record, but that’s not really the whole story here and there’s a lot more going on. Of course you have Young’s vocal that is rich, sonorous and full, but the arrangements and tunes are there too and played superbly by the backing musicians.

There’s a soulful feeling to the record that borrows from RnB, jazz and soul influences to produce a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s laidback, but at the same time engaging with a Sunday morning kind of vibe that allows you to just drift along with the tunes. It would be equally at home being played at home with a glass of wine cuddled up in front of the fire as it would played out at cool pre-club bar.

I’d expected Little candy Heart to sound a little dated for some reason if I’m honest, but it doesn’t – it’s fresh, vibrant and Young’s voice is absolutely gorgeously authoritative, with an unquestionably fabulous range that never sounds stressed or anything but self-assured and poised.

I reckon this could well be a bit of a breakthrough record for SnipRecords given its broad appeal. There’s something here for those who appreciate a fine vocal delivery, for those who enjoy relaxed vibes, but equally there’s a definite ‘pop’ feel too…not the contrived dross we are fed by the countless talent shows on the box but a genuine flair for writing and delivering a great tune. There is clearly single potential here ( the opening track Brighter Days is a killer), but I doubt that’s the market this record is aimed at and the album works really well as a complete recording and this is how I think it will be best appreciated.

The songwriting is really great and given the delivery, is reminiscent of some of the great singer songwriters from years gone by – emotionally charged, musically talented and well crafted. This is a big record that belies the relative youth of SnipRecords.

A damned fine album!

You must be logged in to leave a reply.