We open up with THAT winning song and it's good to see that she get's it out of the way early on...while clearly it's message is strong and it's a very passionate song not only for her, but it represents the issues that so very many of her people went through all those years ago, it's not something the majority can really relate to so on face value at least, it's no more than a slow, sultry number...her combination of lightly whispered, almost husky vocals, combined with more powerful notes in her pitch (lyrically she fleets between English and Crimean Tatar) over simple percussion and some traditional wood-music courtesy of the Duduk, an old Armenian flute made of apricot wood, it's very cultural. "I'm Like A Bird" retains similarly subdued percussion and her voice is generally very harmonious, it's a very sweet song, almost chirpy, which is appropriate, the chorus, soaring high...and the inclusion of subtle techno elements bring the track up to date.
The album as a whole is very much set in a certain style, which becomes clear as we work our way through each track, the whole thing is generally very ambient, very mellow..."Perfect Man" for example combines very minimal jazz-lounge elements, notably via the piano segments but it's also really quite soulful too, with hints of R'n'B layered throughout the track, while "My Lover" is pretty up-beat for the mot part...again utilizing jazz influences but also having a very funk-driven core sound, with brass elements and its' overall rhythm giving it an almost Latino vibe, very interesting. "You've Got Me", one of the album highlights is a really lively inclusion to say the least, with it's rich 70's disco vibe, you can't help but want to boogie to this one...(I'm fully aware I'm a 28 year old man, using the term boogie in 2017, don't judge me, just put your flares on and dance) while "Thank You" is again, incredibly soulful, with it's clap-along, organ-driven gospel qualities, before the album ends on a newly recorded symphonic version of the title track...which really, you can take or leave really.
While the ESC always has been and always will be a mixed bag of treats (this years competition championed the tag line "Celebrate Diversity" after all) it's always the weird and outlandish entries that get remembered more often...in recent times CONCHITA springs to mind, or going back further, LORDI...you know, acts that provide main talking points...so sadly straight-forward singers and performers are often lost in the shuffle, resigned to ESC history books and little else...Jamala is clearly a passionate song-writer and has a quality vocal range, and being more serious in tone she has potential far beyond quick gimmicks...the non-English parts may be off-putting for some but, she really is worth a listen. It's a good job Japan don't participate...a 1940's politically charged song about the war could be so much worse (O_O)...