Saturday, March 2, 2013

Joy Ike - All Or Nothing

I am fond of vanilla ice cream, however, it has to be real vanilla. No artificial flavoring. For me, a creamy vanilla with that yellow tint of real egg yolk, infused with pieces of real vanilla bean, is a thoroughly calming, satisfying, plain concoction.  You can't make a steady diet out of it.  So I only imbibe in the best I can find.
I like adult oriented rock albums the same way I like vanilla ice cream.  I can only listen to it occasionally but, when I do, I prefer music with substance that satisfies, even if the content is quiet and mainstream.  It suits those times when I settle in the recliner just before bedtime after a long day.  I'll turn on a little Madeleine Peyroux, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Joan Osborne, Aimee Mann, Sarah Brightman, or another melodic, inoffensive female artist whose music serves to soothe. Sort of a quiet uncomplicated, easy listening background to end the evening.  Just like with vanilla ice cream, I only want the good stuff, something tasty, nothing that sounds artificial, and nothing so embellished to the point where you can't discern its distinct flavor.

Joy Ike's new release All Or Nothing is worth adding to my quiet time adult-oriented rock playlist.  Ike is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants to the United States and she retains African roots in the rhythms of her music.  Her piano playing is distinctive and percussive; her voice is soothing and soulful. Ike writes rich, complex compositions that sound mainstream and simple.  On All Or Nothing the ten tracks are orchestrated. As her press release indicates,

"[i]nstrumentally, All or Nothing boasts of the talent of Ike’s committed band members – Jason Rafalak (upright bass), Ryan Socrates (drums, auxiliary percussion), Eleanor Graham (cello), and the stylings of Symbiotic Collusion’s Chamber Light Players (with members of Pittsburgh’s Freya String Quartet)."
Ike's music fuses folk, country, rock and jazz themes.  On All Or Nothing, "Everything You Have" exemplifies this amalgam.  All of the tracks have an organic feel.  In this, her third full-length album, Ike is starting to find her own voice. It is soft, slightly eclectic and rooted in her African origins and American upbringing. 

The cut, "The Fall Song," is an alternative rock piece that could be mistaken for a lost Sheryl Crow classic, and a ballad, "Pick Me Up," is a modern day gospel song of the highest order.  Other tracks remind me of works by Laura Nyro and Nicolette Larson.  Don't get me wrong. These are not copycat works.  They are totally and uniquely Joy Ike.  I mention "similar" artists solely as an overall point of reference to help you envision Ike's musical approach.

I suggest, after a harrowing day when you just need to calm down, put a little All Or Nothing in your wafer cone and relax in a comfortable chair.  I'm certain you will enjoy a few licks and might even find yourself wanting more.

- Old School

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