What’s better for capping off — or kicking off — the year than some chilled-out, upbeat jazz-infused songs that are sure to get your toes tapping and your mood lifted? Arthur Fowler’s Here I Am Again is his second release: his last was 2014’s What Keeps Me Going, and this album arrived in the fall with a flourish of guitar lines and organ lushness.
For an extra twist on the five tracks of the album, listen as Chicago blues musicians bring their city’s history and weaving melodies to the forefront, particularly on the instrumental “Blues for Wesley”. The latter three tracks were recorded in Tokyo with Japanese musicians, and while the music blends seamlessly, the instrumentation favours an atmospheric floating here. Note the sweeping sounds on “Tick Tock” and the carnivalesque organ on “Los Años”.
Arthur Fowler is at his strongest when his vocals are slipping and hopping and the beat propels him forward. “Here I Am” and “Los Años” are strong examples, but it’s there on the final and summative track “Disappearing” as well, with its dark curves and electric guitar groove.You can hear that track above.
The five tracks on Here I Am Again are unified in tone, but reach out into genre territories with the curiosity and inquisitiveness that is so inherent to the explorations of jazz music. Arthur Fowler has managed to capture a feeling, and it’s a feeling I’m looking forward to carry on into the new year.