Review Summary: An excellent, surprising debut album from a media artist living in Amsterdam with an intriguing voice.
I can hardly remember the last time you encounter an album and an artist about which there is so little information available. Not even when it is the first album that artist is coming up with. In this age of all information about somebody being available online, legal or illegal, you are able to scrap up something, right?
Well in the case of Jasmine Karimova and her boldly titled debut album From The Womb the accent is exactly on scrapping up information, and it comes up basically to this - Karimova is a multimedia artist living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands of Russian descent, but born in England who speaks four languages. That is more or less it. You can try almost any source, including her internet or Facebook page and you might get a sense of what she looks like or a peek at her visual works. No other info.
But then there’s her first album. A striking title, an intriguing cover painting reminiscent of Frieda Kahlo, and even more intriguing music. The first thing that strikes you as the opener “Daddy” comes in is Jasmine’s voice that sounds like a cross between Fiona Apple and Melody Gardot backed by a very accomplished crew of musicians. As you might have expected, Daddy is followed by “Mother”, a gentle acoustic guitar-driven ballad, where Karimova, like a chameleon, adopts another vocal tone.
“Mother” also gives you the clue of the lyrical stance Karimova adopts on this relatively brief album - it is interspersed with personal, intimate observations and visions, but without turning into self-pity or “my pains” type of introspection, but something almost any listener can relate to.
“Eggshells” and “Swallow or Spit” confirm that Karimova will not lull us to sleep with all slow tempos, and “Little Love” and “Blue” show that the classical piano training she had certainly come in handy. Another piece of information that did slip through, after all.
Karimova is able to jazz up things too like on “Leaving Amsterdam”, shades of Melody Gardot again. “6 Fit Under” confirms the dark lyrical tones that permeate this album, while “Little Sister” is yet another refreshing acoustic guitar ballad showcasing what good voice Karimova has. The album concludes with the Russian language “Glazami I Dushoi”, Karimova’s voice shines again, and you don’t really care if you understand what is being sung or not.
From The Womb is a surprisingly good debut album by an unknown (maybe secretive?) artist, but that might not be the case for too long.