Yana Bibb ‘Afternoon in Paris’ (Dixiefrog) 4/5

yana-bibbA real grower of an album that blues fans would be wise not to overlook Yana Bibb is none other than the daughter of present day blues singer-songwriter Eric Bibb. Unlike her father, Yana has carefully avoided covering identical terrain and instead what comes across is a wide-ranging interest in essentially the black American musical experience. The fact that Yana Bibb was born in Manhattan, grew up in part in Sweden (she is in fact Swedish-American and doubtless has a similar open-minded approach to different cultures that Neneh Cherry has, with a Swedish-American heritage herself), but studied in New York means that the album has a wider audience in mind and will surprise. Recorded in Stockholm by Steffan Astner and with top Swedish musicians on board, the soulful R& B influences intermingle nicely with more conventional blues. Indeed Bibb impresses on the jazz standard, ‘Black Coffee’, with sensitive accompaniment on piano by John Rangel and on a swinging and breezy rendition of ‘New home’ and having John Lewis of the modern Jazz Quartet as your great uncle probably helps improve your knowledge of the jazz tradition. Her voice is versatile, but delicate and wispy in tone and that serves her well on the downtempo ‘For you’. If one had to compare her to any other current vocalist, then Norah Jones would not be far off the mark and with sufficient promotion, the album has significant potential to reach well beyond the confines of a broad-minded blues audience. That Bibb is aware of her family’s towering contribution is left in doubt on, ‘Before you go’, which is a heartfelt tribute to her grandfather, Leon Bibb. The voice will only improve with time, but at this juncture the future looks rosy for Yana Bibb and the repertoire is extremely varied, with the chanteuse confident enough to include two songs in Swedish which are gentle and reposing.

Tim Stenhouse