Sun Speak, the Chicago duo of guitarist Matt Gold and drummer Nate Friedman, have always sounded great together. Since their 2014 debut, the pair have made a tight sound that works simply but makes epic leaps. We’ve been charmed by them for years. So the idea of changing up this dynamic by adding a vocalist made us briefly take pause. However, we should have known to trust these aural craftsmen to add just the perfect ethereal element to their music, and for their third album, out April 27th on Flood Music, they made the perfect choice working with NYC-based Portuguese vocalist Sara Serpa.
Gold and Friedman have always specialized in moody pieces simply made that always seem to come with some charming boldness with a bit of punch. It could be through Gold’s layered guitar work, never shying from effect work. It could be through the crispness of Friedman’s drumming. Sara Serpa’s addition to this simple pair adds one more element with which these two can play. Her often wordless cooing is another improvisational element in the music. She’s a player in these gentle jams. She has a sweet starkness to her voice, impeccable control and beautiful choices. Adding her melodies to this group makes perfect sense for this dynamic.
Thus, we have another fantastic Sun Speak album. Opener “Place in Time” is the only song with words and plays through nicely, but its the vamping out where the band we know and remember reveals its plot. “Basin” is that slow burn of a tune where this group eats, sleeps, and breathes, winding up into something truly beautiful until it sprawls out into a crashing afterglow. “Vision, Motion” is a tune that seems to take backflips over its melodies.
There’s always something to love about Sun Speak. They do so much as a duo and can be so utterly charming as composers and players. Turning this duo into a trio doesn’t upset this balance, but instead adds additional texture where these three are able to make something even greater but still very much a product of themselves. This is a self-titled album. It could be nothing else but Sun Speak with Sara Serpa because there really is no better descriptor to the wondrous music these three have made; it’s the album these three could make, and your ears will be all the better for hearing it.
Sun Speak with Sara Serpa, the latest album from the Chicago duo Sun Speak, is out April 27 on Flood Music.
Sara Serpa, voice
Matt Gold, guitars
Nate Friedman, drums
Recorded by Dan Pierson at Minbal (Chicago, IL)
Mixed by Dan Pierson at Piersonsounds Studios
Mastered by Anthony Gravino at The Drake
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.