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Courtney Yasmineh Courtney Yasmineh
Album: High Priestess And The Renegade
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.courtneyyasmineh.com

Based in New York by way of Chicago and Baltimore, this isYasmineh's seventh full length release, her fourth in five years. However, she remains little known outside her regional stomping ground and the German and Netherlands club circuit. This offers ample reason why that's simply not good enough.

Vocally, she has a warbly voice somewhere between Cyndi Lauper and early Buffy Sainte-Marie, the latter particularly evident, both vocally and in the music itself on the gradually soaring 'The Unknowing' with its tribal drum rhythm and gospel-tinged backing vocals. The plays several different stylistic cards across the album, opening number 'Tower Card', which brings together both Tarot and Rapunzel references, has a rock walking beat, underpinned by intently focused electric guitars with a deep, prowling vocal delivery while 'Hey Lulu' rides a chugging funky bass riff and snakey rhythm that, like 'Remedy', harks to the 70s New York dance rock sensibilities of, say Blondie and the Spin Doctors.

In contrast, the terrific, organ-backed 'Tangled Web' channels doo wop influenced 60s soul while the fabulous 'Crash and Burn' is suffused with the narcotic louche quality of the Velvets, most notably on its walking bass line and the 'coloured girls go' oohing backing vocals. 'Glory' reps another highlight with its soaring southern states gospel delivery, its points of reference underlined by reference to Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

In contrast, 'The Broken' is a sparse, scratchy semi-spoken dirty blues that addresses society's dispossessed, "the girl bathing in the sink at the shopping mall, boy with haunted eyes on the sidewalk no one to call, wounded man with his cardboard sign, woman picking through the trash for anything that she can find."

You might hear a shade of Fleetwood Mac to 'Show Me', a breathily sung story song about how the "unspeakable splendour" of love can hold together a relationship where the fear of doubt eats away, gospel colours again evident in the chorus.

It heads to the final moments with the moody, spare guitar, drums and bass tones of 'Missing Us', a defiant, song about fighting back against gathering depression on the gradually building anthemic chorus of "we might as well drown ourselves in each other's eyes cuz we got nothing left to lose." That sense of defiance floods over into the final track, the balladeering intro of 'Renegade' giving way to a lolloping almost tribal rhythm that has a suggestion of Patti Smith, Sainte-Marie and The Clash about it in a song about taking "a rebel stand" and that "at the point when all seems lost, your luck can turn…and you find that it's not over after all." Slowing back down in the final moments, the last warbled words are "we want to come home heroes." Break out the ticker tape.

Mike Davies