On this fittingly titled album, Sheila Soares reaches back, drawing from her influences to create an exhilarating blend of nostalgic and contemporary jazz. The album’s vision is immediately evident from the opening line, “we will drive in no direction/but away from what we know,” foreshadowing the stylistic explorations that ensue. The title track itself is a microcosm of this concept, for while it’s not anything that overtly challenges the conventions of improvised music, it balances this familiarity with ethereal production and Soares’ interpretive vocals. Her usage of longer phrases lends great weight to her lyrics, particularly as they reflect the album’s overarching theme of remaining grounded in the moment.
Also adding to this picture is the brightness and urgency of Alison Young’s saxophone tone, the immediacy of which demands the listener’s attention from the downbeat. From this track, the album’s promise of resolute directionlessness is fulfilled. The tributes take numerous forms, from country-folk balladry, to rhythm and blues jam sessions and earnest reharmonized Rush covers, but the concept manages to remain constant throughout. The lyrical qualities of the music aren’t confined to the lyrics themselves – the ensemble plays with a wistful reflectiveness that provides a perfect soundtrack to Soares’ expressive verse.
It is a testament to the attention and care put into this work that Rush’s Limelight doesn’t feel thematically jarring despite not being penned by Soares. It mirrors this album’s central quest: the search for meaning within the tangible.