Review: Alma Naidu – Alma


On her debut single, “White Tulip”, jazz singer Alma Naidu captives the audience with three minutes of enchanting ad-libs. Over a steady drumbeat and melodic piano on a truly dynamic track, she scats along after a brief lyrical introduction, with her ethereal voice giving us more and more moments of depth as the song crescendos. The German musician studied jazz singing at the University of Music and Theater in Munich before going on to spend a year at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying under renowned jazz singer Norma Winstone. Alma’s father is a conductor and her mother an opera singer, naming her after Alma Rose, a Jewish violinist who was deported to a concentration camp where she directed an orchestra of female prisoners, playing for their captors in order to stay alive.

→ Listen to Pop Magazine’s playlists on Spotify

Alma Naidu has received prestigious endorsements via a number of scholarships and awards, including the Kurt Maas Jazz Award and the Bavarian Prize for Emerging Artists. All of this has culminated into a great deal of buzz for the young artist. Fortunately, her debut album, entitled “Alma”, lives up to the hype. Naidu’s well-rounded musicality is on full display throughout the twelve-track record. She wrote almost every song on the album with production by award-winning drummer Wolfgang Haffner, who is credited for discovering her. She is featured on his 2020 album “Kind Of Tango”.

Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren makes a guest appearance on her album with a solo on the opening track, “Just A Word”, meanwhile Argentine-born guitarist Dominic Miller, best known for his work with Sting, accompanies her on the track “Wondering”. Lyrically, romance is a big theme on “Alma”, and the song “Heart Pace” even seems to expand into mental health. “All these thoughts wasted trying to figure out your life / Still you can’t stop the thunder in your head”, she sings, the smoothness of her voice almost in contradiction to the pain in her words.

Nature also seems to be a major reference point for the singer, with references to birds, flowers, and rain, all fitting seamlessly into the soundscape she creates. Still, her songwriting style, informal and sometimes conversational, seems to lag behind her vocal ability. Songs like “Illusion” and “Walberla” are standouts, offering a bit of variance from the minimal production and classic smooth jazz sound that defines the majority of her album.

“Alma” closes out with “Another Kind Of Love” a gentle, piano-led ballad. “Treasure every spark”, she sings at one point before later on going to affirm, “You are not alone”. It’s a sweet goodbye, but arguably too heavy with platitudes. Perhaps more poignant to leave us with is a line from Naidu’s initial introduction. “Like a tulip breaking through, out of the earth, into the shining blue”, she sings in the opening line of “White Tulip”. It is a symbolic declaration for an artist making her debut. We look forward to following Naidu’s career trajectory, and watching her bloom as she refines her artistic identity.

Written by Rose Fall

Rose is a musician and author based in Los Angeles.

Author’s rating for Alma

Pop Magazine’s official rating for Alma

Rating key
MASTERPIECE a must-have
SUPERB for heavy rotation
EXCELLENT a great achievement
VERY GOOD a respectable result
GOOD worth checking out
FAIR an average outcome
WEAK not convincing stuff
BAD an underwhelming effort
VERY BAD quite a waste
FAIL a total failure

POP MAGAZINE – The Magazine of Popular Music!

Write a Comment