Sy Smith | Sometimes a Rose Will Grow in Concrete

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Urban/R&B: Neo-Soul Jazz: Jazz Vocals Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Sometimes a Rose Will Grow in Concrete

by Sy Smith

If Minnie Riperton were still alive and making music, she might have made an album like this! It's dreamy, soulful, whimsical and absolutely free.
Genre: Urban/R&B: Neo-Soul
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Perspective
4:08 album only
2. Can't Get over You
3:54 album only
3. Camelot
4:54 album only
4. We Were Never Free
5:04 album only
5. Catastrophe
3:07 album only
6. I'll Always Come Back to You (A Prelude)
1:29 album only
7. Closer Than You Know
5:38 album only
8. Doowop with Dad (A Prelude)
1:39 album only
9. Now and Later
4:31 album only
10. Suri Speaks (A Prelude)
0:46 album only
11. Sometimes a Rose Will Grow in Concrete
4:20 album only
12. It's All in My Mind (A Reprise)
2:02 album only


Album Notes
This album review is from the editor of TheSoulHouse:

Due to heavy commitments in the editorial calendar, The House That Soul Built sadly missed a timely review of Sy Smith’s fifth studio album – Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete. While we perhaps wouldn’t feel the need to belatedly acknowledge a subpar record, we felt that we had to give recognition to Smith’s new material. After all, the nu-soul artist wrote and produced what is a truly commendable album.

Firstly, the tunes. Smith offers a combination of jazzy numbers and meandering electronic soul melodies. Tracks such as ‘Can’t Get Over You’, ‘Camelot’, and ‘Closer Than You Know’ sink into subtle grooves, while ‘Perspective’ and ‘Now And Later’ drip with jazz and doo-wop. The production throughout is expressive but slick, evoking Sade at times, and masters a balance of ambient groove with a clear sense of direction and control. Anchoring the production choices throughout are the strong melodies, but also the lyrics.

Smith’s writing is filled with poetic wit and bite. On ‘Perspective’ – the whispery and sexually-charged opening number – Smith croons brilliantly: ‘Feed me love till I’m obese with thee / I’ll be a beast with thee’. On ‘Now And Later’ – a standout track for its teasing staccato – Smith chastises her lover for his haughty persona. ‘You’re cooler than the pillow’s other side, no jive / Bet you bleed iced tea, for true’, she mocks.

There is also a political undercurrent throughout the album, present on tracks such as ‘We Were Never Free’ and ‘Catastrophe’. However, the crowning achievement of the album is the title song. ‘Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete’ is a flowing, poignant celebration of black resilience through adversity. Invoking Maya Angelou’s seminal novel, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, the song – in Smith’s own words to me – came ‘from a place of quiet/defiant resolution’. Perhaps one should think of it as a more pensive, contemporary ‘Young Gifted and Black’.

Lastly, Smith’s vocal performance is also worthy of ovation. She flicks between bouncy scats, Minnie Riperton-style whistle notes, and gospel vocal runs with impeccable discretion and timing. Particular inflections – such as the cackle at the end of ‘Perspective’ and the crying final note of the title song – provide those extra moments of ‘je ne sais quoi’.



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