‘Breathe Deep’ is the highly anticipated debut album from Oscar Jerome who is part of London’s burgeoning nu-jazz scene. Now, before we continue, don’t let the term, jazz, put you off. For anyone who has been following how the scene has developed over the last few years you’ll know that Jerome and many of his collaborators on this album are reinventing the genre, challenging the listener to think about what it is they’re listening too, and this new album is no different.

Collaboration is the key word for this album which features several of his bandmates from the Brownswood-signed Afrobeat collective, Kokoroko, friends from Ezra Collective, Sons of Kemet, Maisha and Steam Down, as well as the critically acclaimed singer-song writer, Lianne La Havas.

The driving, ‘Sun for Someone’, which has been supported on 6Music and Radio One, kick starts the album and is a comment on the current climate crisis. It is in these politicised moments that Jerome comes into his own and this can also be seen in the powerful and pulsating ‘Your Saint’. Jerome wrote this track in Paris, dismayed at the sight of homeless Syrian families, forced to live in the cities overcrowded metro stations. The poignancy of the situation he witnessed is perfectly represented through the spoken word of Brother Poet, the Sierra Leonean rapper and co-founding member of arts collective, Steam Down. In Jerome’s vocals you can hear his anguish; his vocals are intertwined with the soaring saxophone playing of Cassie Kinoshi, his Kokoroko band mate, who takes over from Jerome’s passionate vocals to end the track.

For fans of Jerome who have seen him play live you’ll be delighted to hear he has laid down the brilliant, ‘Give Back What U Stole from Me’. The sharp and spikey cadence of his vocals blend nicely with the prominent and upbeat baseline, you can’t help but want to move to this track.

‘Timeless’ is a simply beautiful track. Completely pared back, the opening is just Jerome, his guitar and the delectable vocals of Lianne La Havas. As the track builds, layers of rich instrumentation enter, particularly the ethereal trumpet playing of Dylan Jones (Ezra Collective) intertwining with the vocals of La Havas.

The latest track to be released from the album is the intimate and heartfelt, ‘Joy is You’. It is the ideal ending to a debut album that really takes you on a journey. As this final track fades out, I took a deep breath. This record makes you think, it makes your body want to move and you take something new away each time you listen to it.

Oscar Jerome: Breathe Deep – Out 14th August 2020 (Caroline International Records)

I'm passionate about sharing new music for people to explore and expand on their usual tastes. Lover of all things jazz, funk and soul. Follow me on @ChrisPowell90