Love Stories – DK Ibomeka

DK Ibomeka

review by Andrew Darlington

The 'genre' on the iTunes display says 'jazz'. But soft, it's that kind of beguiling high-quality trendy jazz vocalese that has all the nasty complicated difficult bits digitally massaged away until it pours like molasses. In keeping with the vogue, this six-foot, seven-inch Nigerian-derived Canadian plunders the pop canon for Paul McCartney's Oh! Darling, ironing all the 'Abbey Road' rawness out to provoke what they call 'smoky' vocals oozed over the sweet caress of Justin Abedin's dextrously expressive guitar. Then he delves into the teasing innuendo of Nina Simone's delicious Sugar In My Bowl bestowing his breathy reading and elegant flourishes across its suggestive sensuality. But with the attention-grabbing covers dealt with, his own songs stand up well to comparison.

He analyses the psycho-games behind tentative first-date expectations with Interview ("you say you don't do drugs, but does that mean you don't toke?"). His every breath synchronised, "effortless, as though unrehearsed," with producer George Massenburg (Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville) conjuring tasteful guitar noodling - with fingers moving audibly on frets, over a backdrop of overlapping rhythms. The forensic insightful inner dialogue continues through to relationship's end as Consolation Prize (when "Little Miss come-and-go is now came-and-went"). While I'll Be Anybody dances "all arms all feet and no pants" through a series of mild S&M roleplay seduction scenarios with a "tenderness you can't trust."

Then his searingly wistful Found Around The Blues comes etched out by George Koller's resonant stand-up bass, after which he borrows the more traditionally soulful If It's Over to demonstrate the full richness of his voice by setting it to a That's How Strong My Love Is Otis-vibe. DK is a wide-open dreadlocked grin, with a repertoire steeped in a big Gucci bag of snazzy jazzetry. What he lacks in passion or vocal flexibility he compensates with small-club creatures-of-the-night intimacy. Sure, it's digital jazz, teetering close to the smooth tasteful groove of Katie Melua, but for those who find Jamie Cullum too obvious, these might be stories to love.