It is going to be a change of directions in more ways than one for singer Sachal Vasandani. Not only has he officially dropped his second name, he has changed record companies and has more or less re-invented his sound and approach. And it was a good move to do so.
His three records on the Mack Avenue label showcased his immense talent not only as a jazz vocalist, but also as a songwriter as well. Listen to “Summer No School” or “Babes Blues” from his last album “Hi-Fly” and you’ll get the drift.
Now for his next record, “Slow Motion Miracles”, he has changed labels and is now under contract for the relatively young, rejuvenated Okeh Records which in the past has released several impressive artists like Theo Croker, James Brandon Lewis, or Nigerian singer Somi. Sachal fits the roster because he, like all of the others, is opening up the genre and for the first time has written almost all of the songs himself.
In Berlin last night (and the night before), he played almost all of the tracks from the new album which will be released in March 2015. And the songs show a natural continuation of his songwriting process. There is a lot of heart and soul involved in instantly hypnotizing tracks like “Haystack” or “Waiting On The Roof”. Songs like “Knock Knock” or “No More Tears” bear lots of hints to the famous Brill Building era which was home to entertainers and songwriters like Carole King. “Can’t Talk” or “Marie” could both grace any Pop Chart and could bring some missing spark to the genre. There is a lightness and also a wholeheartedness to the songs which really make them stand out.
His band consisting of Ben Spivers (piano,keys), Buster Hemphill (bass) and Jeremy Dutton (drums) were solid throughout with each having a solo spot or two, but it was clearly the focus on Sachal and his new songs and songwriting skills which drew the attention, whetting the appetite for the finished product in March.
Sachal plays New York’s Rockwood Music Hall next on January 10th.