It is always great to come across a new name, and we haven’t reviewed anything from Yasmin Haas before, but I’m very pleased to do so now. You may notice that I tend not to do the reviews much, leaving them to Stevie and Lorraine, but sometimes I do jump in if something takes my attention. In this case, it is a soulful voice that comes from Yasmin, and this single has a gentle popular appeal, one that would fit into late-night listening. “Cleo” is a song touching on the anxieties of being in her mid-20s. She watches on wistfully as her best friend ‘Cleo’ starts a new life abroad, sparking her own contemplation: “It’s about being utterly in love, whilst also wondering, ‘How much freedom do I have left?’’ It is also the first song from this intriguing new talent’s upcoming EP; she reminds me of Sade, which is definitely a compliment!
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Yasmin grew up in London with her younger sister. Her Jamaican father introduced her to the likes of Nina Simone and Angie Stone, while her German mother, defying expectations, established a career as an actress and opera singer, introducing Yasmin to the haunting melodies of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, as well as the enchanting musical theatre of Stephen Sondheim. Then there’s her aunt, Carlene Davis, who is an acclaimed Jamaican gospel singer, and her uncle, Tommy Cowan, who was Bob Marley’s Road manager. Yasmin claims that “so many different musical styles have influenced me, and I have drawn inspiration from all of them.”’
I find her voice interesting as it moves between a soul and jazz sound with this real sense for the melody. I liked her track “Goodbye,” and she has a great YouTube live version of this recorded at Stoke Newington Church; the setting adds majesty to the creativity. If evidence was needed for her ability, then the live setting showcases what she can do. She’s very good!
Image by Laurie Haas
Looking through her videos, there is a visual presentation of her music. There are playful, fantastical nods to Alice in Wonderland and the photography style of Tim Walker. “I guess growing up in quite a theatrical household means I’ve always loved larger-than-life visuals’’ she explains. “For me, the freedom I’m singing about reflects my inner child, which I wish to connect with as I’m getting older—the rebellious, carefree inner child who cares less about what other people think.”
I can see this in “Can’t Feel a Thing,” where there are interesting visual montages, and you definitely watch for what is happening. This is a commercial number that I am sure would fit into the listening for a station like Radio 2 or one of the soul stations here in the UK. She is also, I believe, a poet. And we do love poets, as we have a poetry page here at the magazine (not that I contribute to that bit!) that people either really love or don’t! And that is how poetry should be; there is nothing worse than saying nothing and being average!
All three of the tracks here display different aspects of what she can do under the umbrella of a modern dreamy soul. The EP “Worst of Me” is due on November 28th, and we will be looking to review it here, as I have marked Yasmin Haas down as an artist to watch!
By Benny (the Ball) Benson