The Black Milk Project released their debut EP ‘Holes‘ in March 2016. By the time the recording had been made available for streaming and purchase via Bandcamp, it had already been a case of all change for the Sheffield based jazz poppers with vocalist Delia Taffler having moved on. Guitarist Kris McAdam had other projects and interests on the go, however, and his funk pop outfit Bongo & The Soul Jar had already set about recording their debut full length. That debut, ‘What Have You Got To Lose’, is a brilliantly professional work with it’s core sounds culled from a late eighties and early nineties vintage. While the musicianship is strong, it’s never overly showy: each play of the album uncovers the work of a very natural sounding musical unity; the funk grooves that lie at the core of the best tracks possess an almost timeless quality.
The home of steel, Def Leppard, Cockers Joe & Jarvis (unrelated), Arctic Monkeys and the backdrop for Threads – arguably the most frightening film ever – Sheffield isn’t always a city we necessarily associate with easiness, funk or jazz, but from within the city’s smog comes The Black Milk Project, an unlikely named trio whose debut EP shows the kind of comfort and self-confidence within their chosen musical niche, you’d think they were spawned from somewhere more cosmopolitan…and possibly twenty-something years earlier. Their sounds, dominated by a flowing quality that’s sometimes a throwback to early 90s acid jazz, always have flair, but also a crispness that really helps such easy tones not drift too far towards the easy listening.
Taking in a range of influences on her debut EP ‘Loop’, singer-songwriter Ella Squirrell creates four tracks which are heavily rooted in the electronic with some hefty beats, but always retain elements of the human spirit. The core of the music borrows heavily from late 90s trip-hop and electronica, while her open and sometimes biting lyrical approach owes more to the candid singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon from decades earlier. In this respect, her work should appeal to devotees of Sarah McLachlan, especially those who have a liking for her work with electro act Delirium. Ms Squirrell, of course, doesn’t just recycle these influences – as with any singer-songwriter dealing with the more personal, huge chunks of her own emotion and spirit make up the heart of the material.