Bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Emma-Jean Thackray was born and raised in Yorkshire but is today a resident of Catford, south-east London. Her 2020 EPs Um Yang 음 양 and Rain Dance marked Thackray out as standard-bearer of a spiritually-minded, dancefloor-angled take on jazz that stood at a slight remove from the broader UK scene.
But Yellow – her 2021 debut album - feels like a further step into a fresh and distinct space. Its 14 tracks bloom with brass and strings, choral segments, and ecstatic chants. But this deeper, richer sound is not at the expense of immediacy. “The groove is the most important thing,” says Thackray. “Even if it’s a tune that’s really mad and free, all kinds of crazy shit happening, there’s usually a groove there - an anchor, locking it down.”
Emma-Jean Thackray’s debut album feels exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience. Across its 47 minutes, Yellow draws glowing lines between ’70s jazz fusion and P-Funk, the cosmic invocations of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, and the gorgeous orchestration of the Beach Boys.