Yazmin Lacey - Voice Notes (Own Your Own Records)

Yazmin Lacey – Voice Notes (Own Your Own Records)

“Self-consciousness is the creativity killer,” declares East London born Yasmin Lacey on the opening of her debut LP Voice Notes. As admitted in interviews, the 33-year-old has struggled with confidence and self-belief both musically and in life in general. Her apprehension perhaps being a factor in the delayed transition from EP format to a full album record. She doesn’t come from a family of musicians, isn’t musically trained and the singer whom at one point wanted to be an actress, and has come into the business later in life than many. Voice Notes addresses these nerves but also breaks through them by aiming to risks, as she says on the talking opener ‘Flylo Tweet’: “If you going to do things you’ve got to open up yourself / Making yourself vulnerable is scary / You will fail at some point but the risk when the pay off they are really high”. An absorbing album,Voice Notes is mix of jazz atmosphere, neo-soul grooves and occasional nods to the characteristics of dub and reggae – a genre that Yasmin Lacey’s parents used to play to her as child.  

Bad Company”, which features a Fender Rhodes electric piano performed by Sam Crowe – who has previously worked with Lianne La Havas and Jordan Rakei, is a track that has Lacey talking directly to her inner critic named Priscilla, who is constantly putting her down. Initially we think it’s another human when she teases: “I woke up with my head lay on Priscilla’s lap.
And, yes, it’s been a while she’s noticed that I ain’t been smiling. How did she find the keys to my place?
 But later she reveals: “I woke with a demon on my shoulder. And she’s smoking all my weed. Before we went to shoot, she told me she’s prettier than me.Think I’m flirting with bad company”. Before jokingly suggesting that she charge her rent for the amount of space she takes up in her head.

Furthermore, the twinkly six minute plus jam ‘Where Did You Go? ‘continues to express an identity crisis as Lacey questions: “mirror glaring back at me, I’m unsure of the woman I see.” A call and response to her self sings: “Don’t let me down” followed by “I’ll be around.” The track is succeeded by the phasing-heavy ‘Sign and Signal’, in which she further showcases a feeling of being lost as she is “searching for a symbol” and desires to “seal my tears in an envelope.”

Yazmin Lacey’s identity confidence is likely to have been diminished because of a real life incident; the breaking up of a relationship with a partner she shared a house with. This heartbreak is reflected across ‘Eye to Eye’ and ‘Pieces‘. While the former explores the feeling of unity in a sexual under-the-sheets encounter, the latter speaks about how being in a relationship can surprisingly make someone feel like more incomplete. “Take all the pieces of me that you fell in love with. Didn’t know loving you meant missing pieces of me.” However on the track – which features swirling saxophone performed by James Mollison of the jazz quintet Ezra Collective – sees the whole experience as a beneficial learning exercise: “And I thought it’d be different, I did. Never thought I’d know a love like this. Forever grateful that you flipped the script”.

For all of Yasmin Lacey’s self-depreciation, Voice Notes acknowledges the journey that lead her to the musician she is today. ‘Tomorrow’s Child‘ and ‘From A Lover’ reflect the music that her family adore. ‘Tomorrow’s Child‘ takes the title track from Jamaican dub pioneer King Tubby’s 1976 album King Tubby Meets Rocker Uptown changes the lyrics and adds extra layers such as harmonica. ‘From A Lover’ is tribute to the romantic differentia of lovers’ rock music that her brother and father had in their record collection. Furthermore ‘Late Night People’ and ‘Fools Gold’ honour the nightlife environment that gave her the platform to kickstart her music career, as that what was the time when she starting practicing her art. The latter was inspired by a conversation she had with a stranger at a bus stop, while the electro-soul former praises all the quirks of night time lovers from the “dabblin’ escapists” to the “pleasure seekers” that see night as a wonderfully opportunistic paradise.

Voice Notes final chapter gives us a sweet bossa nova-meets-Corinne Bailey Rae eulogy in ‘Legacy’ – showing respect to a seemingly departed family member known as Nanny Mary – and the heavenly ‘Sea Glass’, which has harp performed among the sounds of water. On this song Yasmin Lacey speaks to the sea itself asking it for guidance like it’s an aquatic clairvoyant. She calls it “mother water” and “seeks questions down to the ocean floor”, such as how can she become weightless and how can she gain strength from it’s current. Yet Lacey teaches herself that “water is in my spirits and to rise you must let go.” So it seems that on her wonderfully soothing debut album, the self-conscious Yasmin Lacey appears to be learning how to take an optimistic control of her identity for the sake of her sanity and creativity.

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