Album Review: Memoirs by Danii Roundtree
Danii Roundtree is a rising name in today’s jazz scene. Her upcoming debut album Memoirs, slated for release in the summer of 2017, is playful, creative, and particularly fitting for fans of old-school funk, pop, and soul, though, it doesn’t actually fully commit to any of these sub-genres specifically. Featuring a nine-track mix that ranges in tempo from slow to moderate, the music is supplied by The Retro Rebels, while the backup vocals are provided by The Coco Puffs.
Performing since 2009, Roundtree has seemingly followed what could be the world’s oldest advice for talent seeking to break out of the mold: start with what you know. According to Roundtree: “Memoirs is an album written from true life events. We all have that one love story that ends before it starts. And I just so happen to be a singer/ songwriter who documents through song. This album is literally a collection of my memoirs. All the records are personal.”
The music on Memoirs varies in style, incorporating jazzy big band and swing influences, like in “My Man,” “Juke Box Boogie,” and “Pillow Talk.” Preferring simple percussion to anything outwardly experimental, she relies on wind instruments to carry her retro sound. Otherwise, guitars and pianos (and possibly a xylophone) provide additional support, especially on songs with swing components, like “Magic," "Blue Eyes" and “Dysfunctional Love.” But when she tackles soul, like she does in “Caroline,” that's when her powerful voice really gets a chance to shine.
Both outgoing and reserved, Roundtree’s vocals perfectly complement the music, at times evoking comparisons to famed songstresses like Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and Erykah Badu. Though some of her songs feature traces of popular hits, like Nina Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” at the very beginning of “Karma," Roundtree always manages to add something that is distinctly her own, while paying homage to the jazz legends that came before her, as well as the contemporary musicians who inspire her today.
To get a taste of her sound and signature style, check out her debut single “Crave,” or stop by the 40th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival on May 28th to see her perform live!
Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.