I can’t get over Introducing SJ, an EP consisting of 17 tracks—some of which are interludes, but most of which are full-length songs. This chick has some incredible vocals. Truly. She sounds like she’s from last century and just happens to have a modern face. There’s “Jardin d’Hiver”, this jazzy, stark ballad that makes one visualize an empty, post-World War II nightclub. The song will tug at the heart of the most heartless person. It’s very melancholy. It will make you think of your childhood and of your life’s saddest moments thus far. It will make you think of people in your life, who you treasured tremendously, but who have passed on. And of sepia-colored postcards. And time-stained, handwritten letters, and torn and faded birth and marriage certificates. The song will make your mind picture a lonesome canoe trip under a dimly lit bridge.
This Sarah Jane Rameau girl really reminds me of Nelly Furtado, and also makes me think of Etta James and Sarah Vaughan. This by no means, means that she’s some sort of mimic without a style of her own. Her voice and style are truly striking.
Oh, and there’s “Istwa Dwòl” (Odd Tale), which rivals “Jardin d’Hiver” (Winter Garden) in terms of impact. The song features singer Talie, and a rap by an artist called Panik. Normally, a rapping segment would seem out of place on a track that’s this jazzy, but that’s not the case for this song. The song narrates the story of five young men who board a boat to “chèche lavi”—-and all they found was their demise. Both ladies are at their best, and their vocals are soaked with sadness.
Introducing SJ does more than introduce Sarah Jane Rameau. It makes you feel as if you’ve already seen the best of her musical world, and what world.
“Twa Fey” proves to be a standout. Goodness gracious, not certain as to how many versions of this song are lying around…But, this has got to be one of the most inspired ones I’ve heard. And there’s this little doo-wopping that Rameau does towards the conclusion of the song that is just—tops—for a lack of a better word. Like, oh!
“Windmills of Your Mind” is sung in both French and English, and Rameau’s vocals are on point. An acoustic version of “Ak Raj” by the singer Yohann Dore, featuring Rameau is another highlight. Rameau sounds more relaxed, and definitely more jovial than she does on some of the tear-inducing tracks on Introducing SJ. “Je te Promets” (I Promise You) circles around the uncertainties of love, while “Million Dollar Man” is very ear-caressing.