Oscar Jerome, Where Are Your Branches? (EP)
Gifted London singer and guitarist Oscar Jerome thrills on his new EP, ‘Where Are Your Branches.’ Impressively, he incorporates jazz into his music, which is refreshing.
If you don’t know the name Oscar Jerome, then you definitely need to learn it and learn about him. The i-D describes Jerome, as a “New Cross based vocalist and guitarist motivated by politics, spirituality, and life. He’s an incredibly gifted, up-and-coming musician, and part of a London jazz revival, of sorts, as i-D describes it. Perhaps best characterized as alternative stylistically, Jerome incorporates jazz cues liberally throughout his music. His new EP, Where Are Your Branches? Is a refreshing, brief listening experience that stretches the ear. The EP is characterized but magnificent musicianship, as well as the spiritual, personal, and ethical beliefs of Jerome.
“Subdued” commences with a sick groove established by drums (Eddie Hick) and accentuated by congas (Onome Edgeworth). The entrance of additional instrumentation, as well as the vocals by Oscar Jerome, makes for an intriguing, unique listening experience. “Subdued” lives up to its billing as an alternative track, eschewing predictability and opting for distinction. In addition to its distinct sound, Jerome impresses with a terrific, jazzy guitar solo, showcasing his incredible musicianship. “Subdued” sets the tone for the jazzy tilt of Where Are Your Branches?
Following the tone-setting “Subdued,” “Chromatic Descendants” continues the adventurous spirit, commencing moodily and mysteriously. The keyboards and guitar fuel the backdrop, while athletic drums sever as the anchor. The prominent bass line, coupled with the drums, gives “Chromatic Descendants” an eclectic sound and vibe that mixes soul and fusion-jazz. Jerome continues to impress vocally, sans histrionics, matching the enigmatic personality of the musical backdrop.
“Where Are Your Branches?” (“Where Is Your Fruit?”)
Instrumental title track “Where Are Your Branches?” (“Where Is Your Fruit?”) opens with the Jerome’s stellar guitar playing. He mostly serves up jazz-infused harmonies, but there are some isolated, melodic tones. That said, Jerome seems to be thinking more harmonically here – there’s not tuneful melody. Unhurried, he’s patient setting the record up. North of one minute in, the groove, in asymmetrical-meter, is hypnotic. Notably, two-and-a-half-minutes in, we get some melody, served up via guitar solo.
After the instrumental title track, “Baby Face” brings back vocals. “Baby Face” is the shortest tune on Branches, slightly exceeding a duration of one-minute-and-a-half. Enigmatic, the interlude foreshadows the quicker, more energetic closer, “Smile on a Screen,” which is ‘turned up’ from the start. “Smile on a Screen” notably brings along a special guest, South London poet, James Massiah. Following the tense, unsettling intro (“Baby Face”), the groove settles in, along with exemplary guitar playing courtesy of Oscar Jerome. Additionally, there’s cello (Tom Oldfield), flute (Greg Sinclair), and synth (Wu-Lu), which further expands the backdrop.
All in all, Oscar Jerome “shines bright like a diamond” throughout the course of Where Are Your Branches? The best characterization is refreshing. It’s clear that Jerome owns his artistic identity, confident from the start of this scintillating EP.
Gems: “Subdued” & “Smile on a Screen”
Oscar Jerome • Where Are Your Branches? (EP) • Oscar Jerome • Release: 1.26.18
Photo Credit: Oscar Jerome