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Listening Report: Samantha Fierke Swings Out Of the Gate With Compelling New Jazz Album, Mirage

Mark Smotroff enjoys fresh sounds from a fine new jazz talent…


If you’ve been paying attention some of you might know by now that I generally don’t run negative reviews for numerous reasons. This is largely because life is simply too short for the negativity and because I’ve read critique from too many powerful reviewers of the past who unnecessarily destroyed (or tried to destroy) careers simply because of their particular tastes and professional aesthetic as well as a fair amount of ego.

My approach is more thoughtful, if I do say so myself, in that if I don’t like something enough, I simply won’t report on it. 

These days I receive a lot of pitches for new music by many up-and-coming and plenty of (with a nod to Monty Python) “I’m-not-quite-dead-yet” older artists still fighting the good fight. Often, I will get advance streams and CDs and even the occasional LP sent to me unsolicited. I do try to get around to these at some point to listen to, even if they’re not necessarily on my radar. I mean, if somebody cares enough to send me their music I’m going to at least give it a shot and see if it’s something I might enjoy it enough to the point where I might want to tell you, Dear Readers, about it. 

This is my musician side of me trying to do the right thing, frankly…

Of the latest batch of CDs that came through in the past couple months some have jumped out at me but one of them is particularly intriguing as the artist is still in college!

Samantha Fierke has a new album out called Mirage which is both an invigorating and lovely listening experience that neatly bridges some gaps between the vocal flavors Chick Corea pursued over the years (with Brazilian singer Flora Purim as well as his wife, ex Mahavishnu Orchestra member Gayle Moran) coupled with more introspective, quirky and beautiful jazz-pop constructs this side of Joni Mitchell’s mid-‘70s “jazzy” period.

Mirage opens up with an arresting track that showcases Fierke’s terrific Brazil-meets-Bombay vocal capabilities, “Kick It Loose.” And then Sam takes you on a rich journey through more familiar jazz flavors (“I Remember Butterflies”) to the Bill Evans-like waltz of “Sweet Girl.” Sam starts to get into near jazz fusion realms with “When People Speak.” The mesmerizing “Shower Song” sounds like a lost track k.d. lang might have recorded around the time of her landmark Ingenue album.

This multi layered vocalist swings, sways and swaggers. Re-reading the official press release some details jumped out underscoring Sam’s talent:  “During the “Mirage” recording and arranging process, Fierke received guidance from Grammy nominated jazz vocalists Gretchen Parlato, Jane Monheit and Oleta Adams as well as Grammy winner Taylor Eigsti, mentors and role models who have taken an interest in the promising singer-songwriter.”

So, yeah, its not just me, your humble record reviewer, recognizing this young artists’ talents.

Mirage is beautifully recorded and as modern CDs go it sounds pretty sweet all in all. It is crisp but not harsh in that way some home brewed (often digital) recordings can be. So kudos go out to producer/drummer Loyd Warden and the quality of bassist Mickey Jamieson’s home studio and its ability to capture the natural acoustic sound of their instruments as well as pianist Samuel Luetkemeyer. The band is completely in tune with what Samantha Fierke is doing. 

You can find Samantha Fierke’s Mirage up on Qobuz, Tidal and Apple Music streaming in CD quality. You can click on the name of the streaming services and it will take you to the album there, respectively.

Better still, if you like this music and want to support independent artists, please visit https://samdoesjazz.com/ to buy the CD which is always a good thing, especially for up-and-coming talent. Support independent music!

Mirage is a promising first full album from a fine new young artist to watch. Listen.

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