Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into the music of The Other Day, an eclectic outfit founded by Bobby Shiflett, a guitarist who previously founded the band Alamantra. The Other Day includes several members from his previous endeavor, but focuses on a new idea: reminding listeners that music is indeed poetry. The group’s debut effort exemplifies this mantra. Let’s talk about an early preview of ‘Night Flowers.’
Perhaps the most compelling piece of ‘Night Flowers’ is that it's an album rooted in instrumental prowess. The charismatic lead vocalist, Jennifer Skates, also performs flute and trumpet. The core lineup includes a bassist, percussionist, and keyboardist as well, all elegantly showcased through the collaborative nature of The Other Day’s songwriting. The songs on ‘Night Flowers’ are written by Shiflett, his wife Catt, and Skates. The result is a collection of songs that defy genre, slyly maneuvering through jazz, Latin, and lounge styles with tactful grace. ‘Sway’ does a fine job exhibiting that.
‘Sway’ is lounge jazz at its finest; Skates is so wonderfully accented by classical guitar and jazzy percussion. Whenever I review an album for the Spotlight, I head to the studio and queue it up on the monitors. For the most part, The Other Day’s music is well-suited to a quality set-up. At times on ‘Sway,’ I did find the timbre of the classical guitar to be a bit harsh, somewhat drowning out Skates’ vocals. I’d argue that ‘The Cosmos (Wasn’t Made in a Day)’ has a much sharper production that properly aligns the vocals with the instrumentation. I adore Skates’ flute as well on that tune.
‘Mi Flor de la Noche’ is a bit of a mixed bag. I really dig the Latin flair and the introduction of some very enjoyable key sections. In the verses, Skates’ vocals seem to be strained, as if she’s attempting to envelope a specific sound or persona that doesn’t fit her pipes as kindly as ‘Sway’ or ‘The Cosmos.’ ‘We’re in the Mood (for Love),’ the following track, harnesses that intense, passionate delivery much better. It feels fitting on ‘We’re in the Mood,’ and the songwriting is a beautiful vehicle for Skates’ most poignant performance on the record.
A massive potential pitfall of this type of jazz is having your record spin into obscurity as it unfolds. Like any other genre, this type of smooth jazz has to be altered noticeably from track to track to remain consistently interesting. Otherwise, your album runs the risk of sounding like an hour long elevator ride or stroll through Nordstroms during the holidays. I’m compelled to argue that The Other Day traverses this impeccably, and tunes like ‘Body Surfer-Another Cha Cha Cha’ exhibit that. The instrumentation and suave lyricism is unmatched on this tune, proving the outfit’s ability to change the formula up just enough from track to track to maintain interest.
Goodness, that electric guitar and organ banter on ‘Unencumbered’ is fantastic. It’s like a Doors rehearsal got lost in a late night jazz club. It rounds out the preview I obtained of ‘Night Flowers’ with terrific energy. (I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t typically describe smooth jazz as energetic or consistently interesting, either.) The vast majority of the production harnesses the chemistry of The Other Day in a very positive way, even ever-so-lightly toying with psychedelic effects. That’s why I’d highly recommend The Other Day and ‘Night Flowers.’ This is contemporary jazz done right by musicians who clearly have a deep knowledge and love for the genre. Check them out below, and keep tabs on ‘Night Flowers,’ slated for January 15.
Soundcloud LP: https://soundcloud.com/theotherdayband/sets/night-flowers-preview