Yazmin Lacey is a singer-songwriter who knows something about coming into her own. She came to music late, she says – “It's never late, but late in the perspective of that I'm doing it now,” – almost as if by fate. And throughout her time in the music scene, the 33-year-old has used her music as an exercise in capturing those moments and putting them into song, as if a snapshot of the intimate parts of her own life.
Debut album Voice Notes is yet another record of those moments. It follows on from three stunning EP’s; Black Moon (2017), When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees (2018) and Morning Matters (2020), a trilogy of sorts, named in part by the settings in which they were written. Voice Notes is similarly inspired by something that helped the album spring to life. A long-held tool of her music-making and way of sharing melodies with collaborators, it’s a method of communication deeply special to her. “For me, a voice note represents an immediate reaction to something,” she says. “[It’s] unfiltered and raw in the way that you can hear it."
Made out of studio jam sessions alongside collaborators like Craigie Dodds, JD.REID, Melo-Zed and executive producer Dave Okumu, the recording process intentionally captured the beauty of imperfection. Lacey opted to forego a polished sound to give way for rawness, the chance to “hear someone's pauses, their stops or the cracks in their voice” much like the album’s namesake. Sonically she is uncategorisable, made up of many styles and influences. “There's lots of different flavours in there in terms of different ways I express myself,” she shares. “The things that I listen to, music that I love – it’s hard to place it. In some ways I would call it soul because that's where it comes from, my own soul. But I always avoid that; it's all perception.”
She has gained support from Evening Standard, The Guardian and BBC Radio 6 Music, holds fans in the likes of Questlove and notably appeared on COLORS in 2020 with song On Your Own. But besides those wider accolades, it is the smaller, unseen parts of her life that become the story of Voice Notes, and the intimate personal observations Lacey chooses to share with listeners. “For me, it's my reactions to my lived experiences,” she says. “It's the next chapter of all I've learned musically and in life through making those three EP's, and me letting go of a lot of stuff that has happened over the last few years.”
It is those experiences captured in the moment – “breakups, moving, starting again, making mistakes, losing yourself, finding yourself, and being able to tap back into the wider picture of what's important” – that come to the forefront, imperfections and all.