Album review: RACHEL FLOWERS – Bigger On The Inside

RACHEL FLOWERS - Bigger On The Inside [Release date 01.10.21]

For an artist influenced by Coltrane and Zappa you may think that Rachel Flowers’ music will be a bit abstract, quirky and at times inaccessible.  But, Rachel was mentored by Herbie Hancock and infuenced by the great Keith Emerson and ‘Bigger On The Inside’ is her third solo album release.

The Hancock influence is present on the opening track ‘A B’ with a silky smooth electric piano solo forging the first of a plethora of great grooves.  All we need is the stellar sax of a Sanborn and the jazz fusion heyday homage would be complete.  (I understand Rachel does play sax as well!)

One of three long pieces, ‘Take Me Away’ is a great advertisement for the album as a whole.  Starting with an unexpected flourish of church organ, nearly 12 minutes flashes by, a real tribute to the way Flowers engages and holds her listener.

Her vocals are used to great effect with wonderful orchestration and then a suitably satisfying guitar break courtesy of Flowers herself who is also skilled on flute and drums.  And then there is a wonderful organ-fuelled mid-section, a trick repeated on ‘This Is The Way I Am’.

This album is so well constructed, and played, that you forget that Flowers has recorded, produced and played everything herself.  There is an organic quality that is sometimes lacking from this type of approach.

The real revelation is that 27-year old Rachel was born 15 weeks prematurely, and as a result she became permanently blind a few weeks after her birth.

In amongst the instrumental prowess there are several attractive tunes such as the west coast/AOR feel of  ‘Love Today’, ‘Beautiful Dream’ and ‘With You’.

‘The Darkness’ develops from a dramatic widescreen start into a strings and guitar groove that Lyle Workman would be proud of.  ‘Feel’ has echoes of Steely Dan in its sassy melding of jazz and rock.  Flowers can really rock out when she wants to.

This is a delightful album and even if you are not a lapsed jazz fusioneer, you may well be converted.  *****

Review by David Randall

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