The Winston Jazz Routine – Sospiri

The Winston Jazz Routine state that they represent an entire community of close-knit relationships. Bonds and contacts that are substantial and deep-rooted with meaningful ideas. All of this results in “the hope that the creation of meaningful and beautiful human relationships will result in music of the same qualities.” It’s a noble theory that The Winston Jazz Routine come very close to achieving on Sospiri.

First things first, this music has nothing to do with jazz in any way, shape or form. The name was apparently chosen to describe the community where the childhood friends hail from. Throughout these twelve songs the Routine embody a pleasant and melodic feel in their music. The name of the album is evident here in that the music is easy-going and satisfying. There isn’t anything that ever gets in your face and the various instrumentations create a lush environment. Lead-singer, chief songwriter and producer Nathan Phillips’ airy and tender voice add to this overall effect.

What I feel truly cements this album as a solid release is the back-end of it. “The Central Memorial” begins with a bright piano before some auxiliary and Phillips’ lone voice creep in. The entire song is a standout with some synthesizer and a hummable verse. “An Engineered Interest” sounds like something taking directly out of Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois album an when I say directly, I mean exactly. Everything from the choral-like voices, the trumpet, timpani and even Phillip’s voice is strikingly similar to Stevens’ music. The trio of songs that close the album are all gorgeous in their craft and melodies. The penultimate song, “The Conductor’s Regress” is an instrumental wonder (the liner notes even supply the sheet music to follow along with.) It’s a budding piece that grows and grows as more instrumentation is added, vocal work and even some timely hand claps into a glorious piece of music.

The beginning of the album is also wonderful with enough catchy melodies to draw a listener in. Phillips’ voice is always hidden in the mix allowing the music to shine through and this is an effective practice. The ballad, “William and Betsy” is a haunting song about love loss, “Grandmother’s Glow” is a pleasing note of appreciation and “The Bride of Sighs” fittingly encompasses everything that this album has to offer: pretty piano parts, choral-like harmonies, strong melodies and impact-filled instrumentation.

This is a quite and pleasing album, one that a number of different people can all enjoy. The songs are laden with reverb, piano and great singing. Sospiri is surely one of the prettier albums I have heard in a while and I am looking forward to seeing what The Winston Jazz Routine follows this with.