Golden Seams

A 9 track soul jazz album (45m 10s) — released January 29th 2021 on Sonder

MidnightRoba is Roba El-Essawy. After spending years as the lead vocalist for the soulful trio Attica Blues, with this self-produced album, Golden Seams, Roba has presented a testament to where she is in life now. Recorded during lockdown of 2020, Golden Seams features artists such as Jason Moran, Ben Williams, Edward Wakili-Hick, Junius Paul, David Mrakpor and Dezron Douglas, amongst many others. The album's foundation is firmly inspired by jazz, but in a style of her own.

  • Opening the album is the introspective 'Self Doubt'. Quiet drums lay the foundation for warm floating synths, melodic bass and our host's vibrato.
  • 'Reminded' is a continuation of this theme as she settles into a tempo reminiscent of emotional late-night conversations and weighted exchanges. While these musical moods are not new to Roba, there is a reaffirmed vulnerability laid out that is unique for this time.
  • The first single 'Don't Let This Change' is an ode that could only be sung by someone who understands what it means to experience loss. There are those moments that we all experience sparks of closeness that we wish not to end. Whether it be romance, social, or a family member, this tune speaks to the fear and reality of our times of fragility.
  • So the purposeful sequencing of 'Shelter Within' is a perfect correlation. In scrambling moments, we all turn to safe spaces. And for Roba, it has been music.
  • That is evident in the stripped-down, up-tempo 'Safe With Me'. It welcomes the listener with open arms, reminiscent of bonding over good times on a dancefloor. It's the type of tune that will remind the listener instantly of the moment they knew that a secure space is near.
  • 'Bitter Boy' marks a turning point on our journey. When our sacred space is infiltrated, when our hearts fill with dread, and our bodies must be defensive, we become protectors of our softness. Someone much more experienced at life's highs and lows could spend hours, days, and years unpacking 'Bitter Boy'. And many have had to. They are our Black and Brown mothers and fathers who worry themselves gray over the safety of their Black and Brown sons (and daughters).
  • While it is the centerpiece of the record, the mellow, lyric-less 'If Time Heals' provides a rest stop to think and regroup.
  • 'Be Still' and the title track, 'Golden Seams', display our leader harnessing her deepest strength. Both focus heavily on keys and live instrumentation, while the vocals carry Phoenix energy. It is in these closing pieces that the spirits of such women as Umm Khalthoum, Roberta Flack, or Elis Regina are felt to the core. These women balanced out their softer sides with knockout strength throughout their careers, toppling obstacles along the way. Their abilities to adapt to changing landscapes remain a key reason why they are household names. I believe that their daughter Roba is ready to take her place among them with Golden Seams.
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