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Kaz Simmons: Signs

Jazz-folk songstress’s new album is a rare, proggy delight.

Fans of folk and jazz have been following Kaz Simmons' rise for a while now, but dare we call her prog? You betcha! Jazzers will still welcome her flawless capacity to conjure a mood in a note, but Signs sounds like early Floyd, had Syd Barrett been a girl.

In particular, openers Last and I Know You have the surreal Englishness of the late lamented Madcap. Simmons’ impossibly vulnerable voice is emphasised by Martin Kolarides’ intelligent lead and effortlessly hooks into prog’s tradition of whimsy. This is pushed to almost absurd levels on Staying In, where Simmons gives her all-male backing band licence to recite hilariously bad chat-up lines from dating websites.

Meanwhile London Loves begins as a seemingly simple love song before getting ambitious, exploding into multitracked vocals and diminished progressions, and its ‘movements’ have the flavour of early Genesis. Even the cover of pop standard You Belong To Me has an insouciant charm.

Maybe Simmons has been drinking deeply of Canterbury prog-jazz, but Signs’ confessional lyrics and ambitious arrangements make for pure progressive joy, and that voice! It’s as delicate and beautiful as an orchid.