A little blues, a little rock, a lot of emotional introspection—while this is not bad as a capsule description of Chapter 4. the new EP from the “honey-coated vocalist” Hadiza Dockeray, it is just a bit reductive. This is a songstress who writes lyrics with the soul of a poet and melodies with the ear of a composer. This is a songstress who seems willing to lay herself bare musically, singing with a passion that is both sexual and spiritual. Her music is highly personal but, as in much fine art, the personal experience becomes a metaphor for the universal. The songs on this EP exude sincerity; artistic without being artificial.
Born in New York, she moved to Paris after college where she began singing jazz standards and rhythm and blues in cafes and clubs. It was after her return to New York that she began writing her own music, music that grows organically from that rich soil of jazz and blues. From the opening bluesy guitar on the EP’s first tune to the closing piano notes on the last, these are songs that build on the foundation of a long tradition.
In a world where emotional upheaval is common, what is needed is some kind of order to believe in. For some it is spiritual order, for some it is aesthetic—for the poet and songwriter Hadiza Dockeray, it is both.
Working with a killer set of musicians, Dockeray has put together set of six tunes that run the gamut from searing guitar-backed rock to elegant infectious melody. If she seems to be moving in a pop direction, her roots are clear. “All Comes Back,” which opens the EP, is a classic evocation of what she calls “winter in the heart” featuring guitar highlights by Steve Bargonetti.
“Off the Grid” is a rocker with some powerhouse work on guitars and piano from Bargonetti, Leon Lee Dorsey, and David Pearl, not to mention the driving rhythms of drummer Rodney Harrison. “Too Long” takes a softer pop approach, but she rocks out again with “Somebody Better,” a video of which has been around for a number of years. The EP closes with the Latin-flavored tune, “The Other Voice” and an understated melodic “Break Through.”
Chapter 4 is the kind of EP that leaves you wanting more. You like what you’ve heard, and you’re disappointed there aren’t a half dozen more songs. Let’s hope Dockeray is busy working on that half dozen as we speak.