Ash Walker – Aquamarine (Review)

London based multi-instrumentalist Ash Walker returns with his third career instalment, the enchanting album “Aquamarine”. Released July 19th via Night Times Stories, the tranquil nature of the album feels like you’re floating on a calm sea in a boat filled of happiness. With a back catalogue of strong contenders, the colourful new release keeps a pattern of love throughout. Described as ‘underwater jazz’, the mermaid inspired album title sets the mood in a glistening way. 

Featuring Laville on lead vocals, “Under The Sun” sets a mood that can only be described as peaceful. A smooth relaxing track that fits perfectly as track number one. Highlighting that jazz influenced vibe that Ash holds close to his heart, it’s like Laville’s vocals know this song before he even heard it. Proving that this partnership is a force to be reckoned with, it’s not the only track that we get to hear from the duo. Armed with more numbers like this, this album is looking to be vibrant. 

“Time” sticks with Laville like glue. Another mesmerising take on neo soul, there’s a nu-jazz vibe. It sounds like James Blake collaborated with Bonobo to create a glowing atmosphere. Ash’s production feels polished but somewhat vintage with the analogue samples at the back of the mix. “Come with Us” takes your hand with a firm grip into the realm of greatness. Featuring trumpet and flugelhorn auteur Yazz Ahmed, the instrumental track grooves like there’s no tomorrow. 

“Brave New World” simply takes us through outer space with it’s extra terrestrial element. Jazz fusion influence shines through this one, it’s like Weather Report met up for coffee with Michael Jackson in the 90s and ended up having a space like jam. “Finishing Touch” features Laville’s Marvin Gaye like vocals. Holding a repetitive nature, it feels like this track has been done before on the album but better. It feels like it’s missing a big impact like the tracks before. Saying that, the production still makes it bold. 

Title track “Aquamarine” includes a complex modulated chord progression that sparkles like the sea at moonlight. This is the one track that blends all of Ash’s influences into one delicious cake. There’s soul, there’s jazz but there’s also a hint of blues and funk. A remarkable song that will take you to another place. “Sanity” transports us to the present day. Laville’s pop like vocals sound heavily inspired by artists such as Rihanna and Drake. As for the instrumentation, it’s experiment and features a percussive, pulsated rhythm.

“I Need Money” happens to be the best title on the album for sure. It’s relatable and of course as human beings, we’re always after more money.  As for the arrangement, it dynamically includes different instruments in their own prominent way. Relaxing and slightly sounding like the kind of music you’d hear in a jazz bar in a big city, it’s beautiful. A big part of the song has to be the bass tone, it’s mid level frequency includes a killer EQ that only the gods would create. “Fat King Smoke” includes a Hiatus Kaiyote like chord progression before adding a drum pattern that sounds like it’s been drowned in delay. Unique and vibrant, it reminds me slightly of early Jill Scott work. Once again, another instrumental that soothes the mind but let’s it wonder to a fantasy. 

“Ain’t Got You” is the dance track that the album needed. You’ll be hearing this at a live show or even in a club and sooner or later, you’ll be strutting your stuff on the dance floor. It’s infectious and memorable. It’s probably the most mainstream song on the album that could be a strong hit in the pop/soul charts. Saying that, everything else on the album deserves to be number one. Last number “The Dagon’s Cashmere Jumper” is the send off that the album deserves. It’s a gentle goodbye but hopefully not for long. Left wanting more with the advance knowledge of music theory plus the talent, Ash Walker has created quite simple a masterpiece. 

Score: 8/10


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