OMG, I AM getting old. Sure, that little Jewish girl from Canada which happens to have a very Polish-sounding family name has got a great voice. Sure, I am totally stunned by her vocal abilities and I think she is really good especially when it comes to smooth jazz. But… I’m scared to death by the possibility of the fact that a 16-year-old with a gorgeous voice means money and show business and when I’m thinking of Nikki Yanofsky being another plastic doll for the huge record companies and all the corporations profiting from her talent, I’m simply shitting my pants.
In the very beginning when I was listening to her newest album which is simply called Nikki, I thought that this is yet another revelation in the music biz. The girl’s got talent, an amazing voice, she deals easily with most sophisticated melodies and – this is gonna be big, guys! – she is literally BORN FOR SCAT! Not many artists own such a natural ability of scatting, many most famous jazz singers avoided scatting throughout their whole career. It’s a difficult art and it’s very, very risky. Yanofsky does it with such ease that you get goose-bumps, listening for instance to You’ll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini), which is definitely one of the best songs of the album not only in terms of music itself but also simply because it shows the abilities of the singer – and it’s not a coincidence, it’s the same song that was once sung by glorious Ella. And, man… Yanofsky is though! She can scat, she can sing a song stylized for a French chanson (Bienvenue dans ma vie), she can be lyrical turning even a little bit soul, she can even sing in a way that raises thoughts on the influence of country music and/or Norah Jones, and she can also sing pretty rough with a very strong, mature voice. Outstanding!
The problem is that listening to the album I had a feeling that Yanofsky doesn’t know what kind of music she really wants to play. Of course most of these songs are basically ready-made hits. Kind of that you hear in the radio every damn morning until you start to hate the song and the vocalist as well. And, maybe I’m too much obsessed about her age but I had a feeling that someone extremely stupid, someone who sits on the top of this whole food chain called the music biz, told her: “Nikki, we pick this, and this, and that, cause No. 1 will be admired by the critics, No. 2 will be admired by the public, No. 3 will be played in the radio and No. 4 will sell and earn us money”. Ok, that’s obviously going pretty far with my imagination. The point is that the album is not consequent. I spent a lovely evening listening to Nikki and the record is totally sweet, amusing, the music is perfectly performed. Still – I’m missing something. A concept maybe? I feel like it’s some kind of an album you could title The Best of Jazz Radio – the only difference is that you’ve got one, single vocalist here. And this is not an advantage of Nikki.
The changes in styles and mood are also not experimental. It’s not performed in a way to keep the listener avid to get some more. It’s not supposed to surprise you or keep the tension. It’s just falling apart. I felt a bit cheated and a bit disappointed – here I have a great album by a very promising, young artist with amazing vocal abilities and I admit each of the songs is great (except I Believe which was used during the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver – corny, dull, unimaginative, tasteless pop that reminds me of Celine Dion and Celine Dion only). And then – I just don’t know what to say after listening to the whole of it cause fourteen (sorry, thirteen) great songs don’t make my day. They just don’t. Period. Maybe I’m spoiled, maybe I’m a nerd, whatever, say what you want, but this album does not win my heart just because it includes talent and well-written songs. Where’s the concept? Where’s consequence? Where is the art? Yes, you’re right, I said it – where’s art? Creating an album does not imply you just need to record thirteen damn hits, does it? Why we don’t call Summer Hits Vol. 90210 real albums? Cause they’re not albums, for Christ’s sake!
What I think, all in all. This girl has got a bright future in front of her. But it’s very easy to spoil it right now. If she slips once, she will end up as a pop star, Ms. Miley Cyrus No. 2. And this would do huge damage to her talent and her abilities. All we can do is wait and hope that she is determined enough, mature enough and though enough to resist the temptation of becoming a pop star. If she does, then… well, guys, we might have the new Ella Fitzgerald here…