Jazz singer-songwriter Fiona Ross undertakes the difficulty of capturing the everyday – via both its birds-eye view and its sharp, minute detail – on her new album Thoughts, Conversations and To Do Lists.
She manages to crystallize the racing interior monologue, the standstill of the post-breakup blues, the gentle flow of a thirst for knowledge. She also deftly paints the party atmosphere, the easy camaraderie between friends, and the steadfast desire for truth.
The album’s opener, “When Will You Leave My Mind,” is a paradoxical song in the sense that it’s sonically full of movement – it has the pace of a cha-cha, a chugging train, a bustling city – while the lyrics capture perfectly the state of stuckness and standstill after a breakup. Replete with a catchy Latin guitar groove, the track makes the internal turmoil palpable with Ross’ syncopated singing, her words moving deftly in and out of the sensual instrumentation as she inquires, “When will you leave my mind/ You’ve spent too long in my mind/ You don’t belong in my mind.” The overall effect, however, is sassiness and steadfastness rather than wilted defeat, and the listener gets the sense that she’s going to solve this – if not right now, then quite soon.
Thoughts, Conversations and To Do Lists moves from strutting (“I Want To Know More”) to pensive and meandering (like the sax-studded “The Small Things”) to the wild, raucous and adventurous (“When You Walked In The Room”). Ross’ voice soars, strides, and shimmies through “A Single Source of Truth,” about looking for straightforwardness and low-drama in a world of melodrama and fake news.
Meanwhile, Trumpet Man” is sexy and undulating, an ode to a sort of renaissance man, with (of course) sublime trumpet accents in all the right places. “The Don’t Stop Just Breathe Ragtime” features wildly fun, almost cartoonish instrumentation with a sense of deep playfulness. And the glittering piano, danceable beats, and groovy guitar on the instrumental “#ThursdayThoughts” at the album’s conclusion replicate a mind racing with ideas and boundless energy.
Written, arranged and produced by Ross, the 14-track album is a compendium of several themes reflecting Ross’ day-to-day life. While some songs are busy, with lots going on from every angle, others are more interior and reflective, mirroring Ross’ headspace.
“Someone asked me what my new album was about and I explained that it’s just really some of my thoughts, some conversations I’ve had, and my To-Do lists,” Ross recalls. “That kind of stuck, so decided to call it exactly that – Thoughts, Conversations and To Do Lists.”
Named among the 100 Alternative Power Music List for 2020, multi-award winning jazz artist, editor-in-chief, journalist and founder of the award-winning Women in Jazz Media organization Fiona Ross never stops. As a vocalist, pianist, composer and producer, Ross has become known for creating her own contemporary jazz sound incorporating fast-paced Latin jazz, vintage jazz club, and a little bit of neo-soul along with heart wrenching ballads. She came to the world’s attention as the artist that gave Ed Sheeran his “first push,” but she very quickly established herself as an artist in her own right and has received incredible reviews and awards across the globe for all of her albums.
Ross has achieved many accolades for her work, including Best Jazz Song from the World Songwriting Awards, Outstanding Achievement awarded by the Global Music Awards, and International Female Songwriter of the Year from the International Singer-Songwriters Association. She has been featured in publications including Tinnitist, Jazziz, Record World Magazine, Jazz Corner, Ink 19 and Jazz Quarterly. Fiona’s song “Mistress” (which was recorded live in a stairwell) was selected to be included in the British Library archives for prosperity. “Ross’s lyric phrasing, vocal register and arrangements deliver brilliant presence and form,” says Music Interview Magazine.