Dutch jazz/pop sensation Caro Emerald is in Glasgow, bringing old-school Hollywood glamour along with some bossa nova beats, latin vibes and a fabulously retro stage set.
Emerald is indeed a gem, and her reputation as one of the finest live performers in the world remains firmly intact on the basis of this glorious sell-out set at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Backed by her exceptional seven-piece band, she storms through hit after hit after hit from Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor, The Shocking Miss Emerald and Emerald Island. It’s rare that there’s not a weak song in an entire set, but there truly isn’t. Despite what your pre-conceptions are about her music, there’s something inherently infectious about each and every one of these tunes. The mixture of 40s and 50s jazz, swing, Latin beats, some VERY James Bond themed numbers and good old pop, is irresistible. There’s also the inclusion of Camila Cabello’s chart-topping Havana, a song that couldn’t be more perfect for Emerald to cover.
There’s little interaction with the audience, little show of personality, save for her quirky, modern/retro fashion choices (two outfits for the evening if you’re interested) not that there’s any sign of ego or arrogance, Emerald really does let the music do the talking, there’s no need to waste time with chat when people just want to hear these tunes.
Of note are the gorgeous, retro projections that accompany the set, be it chilling by the pool or a hot Cuban night, they perfectly enhance the mood of each song.
It takes the normally exuberant Glasgow audience a while to get on their feet tonight, but when they do there’s no way they’re going to sit back down. The evening ends on a high with Emerald’s most familiar song, On a Night Like This. The perfect antidote to the on-coming winter blues.
From folksy beginnings, Blair Dunlop has been moving in recent years (and over the course of three albums) to a more commercial sound.
The son of singer Judy Dunlop and Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Dunlop has a varied performance CV, as well as his musical outings, he also appeared as the young Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Prizes have also not eluded him, winning the 2013 Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards and the Special Jury Prize Premio Ciampi in Italy in 2014.
His Ed Harcourt produced latest album, Notes From an Island features large in this live set. The folk elements are still evident, and are the very heart and soul of his sound, but it’s clear Dunlop has matured greatly. While there’s now a broader appeal to the sound, and a big Americana influence, there’s still real depth to the material and a clear political and social commentary running throughout.
Dunlop and his sound are well suited to intimate venues. That said, it could be argued that Dunlop’s material is so intimate that even this small room sometimes engulfs it. Thoughtful and low-key, the sound could easily be lost in a large venue and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for career expansion. This is music to reflect and relax too, to muse about, not necessarily for a live setting, the audience, while clearly enjoying the gig, are relatively passive for this city. That said, Dunlop is hugely talented and his music is a joy to the ears, he’s a gifted technical vocalist and musician, hopefully his sound will continue to mature and expand to larger venues and audiences. This is music of the highest quality that deserves to be heard by the widest audience possible.
It seems silly to label Nashville based, Texan troubadour Jarrod Dickenson a new, rising star, he’s an artist who’s been on the scene since 2010. However, now that the appetite for musical Americana is gathering momentum in the UK, Dickenson’s reputation is building, and with speed.
He’s in Glasgow at the world-famous King Tut’s with just his guitar, his trademark tall hat and his Belfast-born wife on backing vocals to support Grant-Lee Phillips and promote his latest album Ready The Horses.
A born storyteller, the stripped-back sound suits these self-confessional songs perfectly. His sound straddles multiple genres: country, old-school blues, folk, a touch of soul, a tinge of Johnny Cash, but most of all it’s entirely transportative, it’s more New Orleans blues bar than Glasgow rock venue tonight. Dickenson is clearly a gifted musician and songwriter, each song a perfect vignette on life, the universe and everything in between. Dickenson’s voice manages in turn to be plaintive, poignant, plangent, rough, smooth and strong. This live set is as note perfect as anything you could catch on a recording.
This is a strong set, delivered to an enthusiastic crowd, by an incredibly talented musician who deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Dickenson surely has a bright future ahead.
Reviewed on 21 April 2018, currently touring the UK with Grant-Lee Philips, then Don McLean.
Having spent weeks at the top of the Country Artist Album chart, the talent and quality of London-based ‘country, folk-pop’ group The Wandering Hearts won’t be confined to intimate venues like Glasgow’s Broadcast for long.
Thirty minutes after uploading two demos to SoundCloud, the group, then called The Paper Hearts, caught the attention of Decca Records, who invited them to audition one month later, and signed them on the spot. A small name change, a turn supporting the Brothers Osbourne, an appearance at the C2C Festival and here we are on their first headline tour.
Having a band with four talented vocalists results in the most ear-pleasing, to-die-for harmonies and while each is a knock-out singer, it’s A.J. Deans’ outstanding voice that lingers in the memory. The interchanging of the vocal leads means that the interest never wanes throughout the set. Comparisons are inevitable with Fleetwood Mac but it is evident that this band have poured their hearts and souls into the creation of these original sounding songs, there isn’t a weak link in the entire one hour set. Standout among the fabulous tunes are the upbeat Devil and the contemplative If I Fall.
The quality of the sound, singing and song-writing is bigger than this (albeit) sold-out show. This is stadium filling stuff with a wide appeal. The current appetite in the UK for musical Americana remains undiminished and The Wandering Hearts will undoubtedly be at the vanguard of the British movement.
This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.
Irit Dekel’s life story is almost as colourful as her music. The Tel Aviv native has been an Israeli Army sniper, actress, TV host, film-maker and comedian and is in Glasgow with her three-piece band to showcase her debut solo album Happy.
Her sun-soaked sound transports, instead of sub-zero Scotland, it’s the sound of Parisian pavements, middle eastern rhythms, Astrid Gilberto, Buena Vista Social Club, and a dash of Piaf.
There’s a bite to the lyrics behind the catchy melodies, and Dekel describes some of the life experiences that have influenced the songs, one particularly affecting is based on her military service and the paralysing of her bunk mate in a freak gun accident. That said, the over-riding feeling is one of joy. The rhythms infectious. There’s also an original take on R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People.
Irit Dekel is offering up something original with this east-west hybrid of influences. An antidote to the grey world outside the doors. Highly recommended.