Tokunbo was the lead singer of the group TokTokTok which won five German Jazz Awards and recorded a total of 13 albums. After her 2014 solo debut, she is now back with “The Swan”, a wonderful collection of 11 songs and stories, wrapped up in silky soul and satin, sometimes going the folk route, sometimes jazz and pop, always staying true to herself. Her voice is so amazingly easygoing and in some cases almost takes the same role as the other instruments and not stepping out front. Which is very sympathetic I think. The lovely, unobtrusive and intimate voice grabs you from the start, the charmingly flowing “New June” which reminds me of the atmosphere and mood of one of my favorite albums of all time, Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”. The string and vocal arrangements are just awesome.
Same applies for the haunting “Cast Away”. The strings (played and arranged by Anne de Wolff) towards the end are just sublime. Simple, yet very effective and very humble. Sometimes her voice is subtly turned into the background, giving the tunes an otherworldly character, as in “Outer Space”. Her band mates, same as on her previous album, are Ulrich Rode on guitars and keys, Christian Flohr on bass, Matthias Meusel on drums and Anne de Wolff.
Each song tells a little story and Tokunbo writes in the liner notes that she wrote the album after her child was born and that it took her about two years until the songs were ready. My favorite is the blissful “Innocence”, another one that has me thinking about “Tusk”. As does “Rebecca”, a song about a girl “roaming the city” which needs to be saved (“Rebecca please press hold/Before you sell your soul”). The similarity here is remarkable, but it is never a copy or something. It’s just a beautiful pop song with a twist and without any absurd gimmick. Relaxed and soothing. There is hope in her lyrics, too, such as in “White Noise”, another short little tune with lots of elegancy. The strings play a vital role throughout and underline the melancholy mood of the title track. The overdubbed vocals on “Words” add to the excitement of the tune which also features a Bert Kaempfert-like bass. The subtlety and litheness of this project is overwhelming. And the album is out on vinyl too!
Tokunbo is on tour:
3/16 Münster, Konzerthalle Cloud
4/13 Berlin, A-Trane
4/14 Berlin, A-Trane
5/04 Hannover, Kulturzentrum Pavillon
5/11 Karlsruhe, Tempel
5/12 Freiburg, Jazzhaus
5/19 Stuttgart, Bix