This is a pop album from a jazz artist, singer Sachal, aka Sachal Vasandani, who switches to Sony’s OKeh after establishing a growing reputation on Mack Avenue with Eyes Wide Open, We Move, and Hi-Fly.
Here he embarks on a different direction so different in fact that this album needs to be looked at with different eyes and heard with different ears. There are some strong songs here but not many, his own ‘No More Tears’ the opener is very catchy the vocal dominating, the backing adding little even though there are some fine jazz musicians making the record with him, these all not massively stretched, mind, it must be said, and they include drummer Nate Smith (seen recently on the Oscar-winning Birdman). Michael Leonhart produces and plays various instruments himself including guitar and brass instruments while Taylor Eigsti and Gerald Clayton also crop up on some tracks, Eigsti on keys and synths, Clayton on piano on a few numbers. Mehliana’s Mark Guiliana even features on a few tracks.
Recorded over several months in a number of New York studios not everything works but there is enough to make this album stand out: ‘Cover the Water’ a vibrant Sachal co-write with Leonhart the other biggie apart from the opener a joy in the interestingly constructed song and even a Bobby McFerrin-like sense of adventure in the vocal high wire act although there is more of a Bublé twang in places elsewhere. The glossy production of this track however and the album sound in general might create barriers that are hard to break down for some listeners unless they accept it on its own pop terms.
The quietly compelling cover of Jim Weatherly’s ‘Neither One of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)’ a number one soul hit for Gladys Knight and the Pips in the 1970s is a strong ending. But the feeling persists as a pop album it’s maybe too grown up; to jazz listeners it’s too much of a light snack. With the wind blowing in the right direction the excellent instantly hooky ‘No More Tears’, a real tonic of a song in all its lacklustre downtempo reluctance, however, could be the making of Sachal way beyond his existing fanbase even if we forget other more disposable aspects of the album pretty quickly.