It opens with an introduction to Cohen’s Introduction (Hallelujah) sang a capella, just Kosi’s voice – and it is a taste of things to come. Powerful, emotional and engaging. The second track is Salim Washington’s ‘Elder Washington’ and sees Kosi take the vocals to a higher register, dipping down, rising again and creating a story with sound. Tucked in and dovetailing superbly with the vocals is some impressive piano playing from John Lander and together they create a beautiful all too short number. Following swiftly is Kosi’s self-penned ‘Guilty’ which begins with soft, gentle guitar and percussion with Kosi’s voice coming in to tell the listener about several of the sins committed in the name of love (and several other reasons) with a couple of driven, gorgeous tenor sax solos from Brendon Biagi. There is great dialogue between voice and instrument here with the sax, lifting and stretching the lines laid down by the voice. The sax is left to finish the number in an exquisite rumination of sound. This is followed by Kosi’s take on the traditional Negro spiritual ‘ Servant’s Prayer’ which is delivered with emotion and feeling. It is sung over background recitations in Arabic, Latin and Hebrew, emphasising the multicultural draw of spiritual and religious music, especially when sung with such emotion.
‘Lament in A minor’ is Kosi’s own song and is driven by the spiritual side of life and the desire to make amends for wrongs committed or felt. It is a well-structured song and the vocals bring it to life, adding depth and texture to the open chords of the acoustic and electric guitars. ‘Your Angel’ is one of the highlights of the album and is a deep, moving and exceptionally well-delivered song with good vocals and a strong musical support from the guitar, bass and percussion. The guitar solo is timed and pitched just right for the song. Kosi tells us, “I know I’m on to something good each time I make you smile” and this song does the trick. ‘Walk with Me’ is another traditional Nero spiritual, given the Kosi treatment. The vocals enter, deep, velvet-smooth and sonorous and sung with the trademark emotion, which is so much part of Kosi’s delivery. Satish Robertson on flugelhorn adds a mellifluous air to the duet leaving the clear vocals soaring over the top. ‘Father So Wise’ is co-written with Salim Washington and again includes some interesting vocals and grounded support from the musicians. There is a wonderful middle section where the musicians play a jazzy section, which lightens the mood before the vocals enter once again, but this time playing with the rhythm and lines creating a playful feel to the finish. Then follows Kosi’s version of L.Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, which is absolutely marvellous. The words are clear, the vocals precise and the emotive content nigh on perfect. This track grabs you, makes you almost cry and the interpretation is both exemplary. Kosi’s voice suits this song immensely and she seethes with anger, cries with awe and explodes with adoration in turn. This version is impossible not to be drawn into. The Negro spiritual ‘Since I laid my Burdens Down’ follows and is a bluesy, rollicking song with additional vocals from Vincent Parker adding colours and layers to the music. Lovely. ‘Morning After Blues’ is written by Kosi and sees the CD out in style with great vocals and another great piano solo. This is, according to the sleeve, the end but there is a track 12 not on the sleeve notes ’Wholly Earth’, which is a bonus and a gift. A lighter, quirkier number about the events in life, which shape us with some great trumpet playing from Satish Robertson. The trumpet picks up and flirts with the vocal lines, interrupts at times like some mischievous child- a lovely track.
Kosi has at her disposal an incredible voice with an extensive range and the power behind it is palpable. At times, the control is loose and notes are not always pitch perfect but this actually adds to the emotive content in the music and is sublime in its truthful telling of the stories in the songs. What is engaging and imperative about her music is the emotional input and impact she has. This is the third album I have reviewed of Kosi’s and she gets better every time. Not only that but she has surrounded herself with musicians who both understand and interpret her songs with solid, talented playing and quite rightly they get solos too. The talent of Kosi is unfurling. On the album sleeve, Kosi is giving the viewer a knowing look. After listening to this, you know why. This is beautiful, heartfelt music and given of the heart and soul. We embrace it. Kosi sings in ‘ Morning After Blues’ “I know Who I am” and this is the CD’s title. Now we do too.
Release date: 04th November 2016 through Kosi’s own label (www.kosi-sings.com)
Recorded and mixed by
Joe Davi in Long Island City, NY and Williamsburg, NY
Full: Musician credits
Drawing by Pavel Tymoshenko
Photography by Brendan Perdomo
Text: Sammy Stein
Extra Images: Adam Olszewski