MICHELLE NADIA REVIEW
Michelle Nadia Firefly
Michelle Nadia is the pick of the current crop of female singer-songwriters amongst some pretty stiff competition. With Nadia coming to the attention of Discovery 2 as Caffè Nero’s artist of the month you need to get to one of her gigs while they’re still intimate; she’ll be filling the bigger clubs and then the major halls soon. It can only be a question of time before her five star debut Firefly takes off and now is the time to see this most engaging, refreshing and original of the younger entertainers.
The collection opens with what at first sounds a funky innocent love song called Dance. It’s an excellent candidate for my favourite muso’s pub-list: best track one side one of a debut album (eg Kate Bush Moving, Pink Floyd Astronomy Domine, Joy Division Disorder, and of course the daddy: The Stone Roses I Wanna Be Adored). Seconds into Dance, the penny drops and the dark sinister undercurrent rages through. This is a fabulous cut, and it cuts deep.
Second track Stars sweeps us majestically to another place altogether and with the references to her faraway home “in the southern hemisphere tonight” it underlines this intelligent erudite artist’s cosmopolitan vision. One of the best ever opening suite’s by any singer-songwriter melds into the zenith of this excellent album, title track Firefly. The stripped-down vocals of Firefly probably show the way for Nadia’s future defining her highly individual composition and delivery. Ache for Beauty is particularly beautiful; it’s hard to listen to it without being transported to Nadia’s live gigs. While trying to avoid spelling out each track individually, brief research on YouTube will tell you that New York Morning is a long-established live favourite and it is delivered with suitable elegant assurance. The rest of the album is completely filler-free and never disappoints. Firefly could well still make it as the sound of the summer of 2012 and certainly deserves to. It’s hard to believe the totally complete homogenous achievement that is Firefly is a debut album. The purity of the lyric, the restraint of the melody and the understated elegance of the whole is reminiscent of the divine Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album stays true to this principle right through to the gorgeous closing piece that is Circling.
Michelle Nadia live review
So Bar Richmond 15 August 2012
Michelle really is this year’s must-see act and she’s been honing her considerable skills busking on the Portobello Road. I popped over to So Bar with the dentist. It’s tucked away just off Richmond Green in a narrow alley-street but we found it easily enough. Michelle was just getting herself organised so we had a quick catch up with the top-of-the-bill – actually, the only-on-the-bill.
When the dentist and I saw Michelle Nadia at aaa@archangel it was very much a formal Firefly showcase. At So Bar the whole thing was relaxed with Nadia chatting to the audience and running through a dazzling, at times virtuoso, interpretation of the classics with the Neil Young covers outstanding. Even the man that we nicknamed “god” as kids would have been amazed at the delicate and very personal Old Man and the chillingly biographical The Needle and the Damage Done about Crazy Horse – “I hit the city and lost my band”. Notoriously difficult both vocally and on the guitar, especially solo, the latter earned a “thanks for that Douglas” on request.
Again resisting an article about a list, a tour through some of the songs played during a three hour set is a fascinating insight into the range of influence and reference of a songwriter who has the talent not to mention the ambition to become the Carole King of her generation. Nadia’s live gigs are a must even if just to hear her moving cover of Blondie’s alternative-disco Heart of Glass, and when she followed that with The Boxer she put the gauntlet down to every other emerging chanteuse. Frankly in my view she’s better than King and Mitchell, gunning for Hynde, and playfully happy to take on Harry. This was re-enforced by her very own take on First Cut is the Deepest covered so often few know it’s a Cat Stevens song. A Valerie closer to The Zutons than that even more famous deliverance is a nod to the only other member of the current generation who could compete with Michelle Nadia. Sadly she is no longer around …. some might say …. well Amy Winehouse had said most of what she had to say, like Ian Curtis a generation and a half ago - probably.
Throughout this disarmingly open magical mystery tour of her heroes and villains, Nadia interspersed pretty much all of Firefly. Michelle Nadia’s work sat in its rightful place comfortably alongside such staples as her excellent reworking of Minnie Riperton’s Lovin’ You – Michelle probably isn’t ready for her Pin Ups but I can’t wait.
Michelle Nadia live action
Michelle’s good at keeping her website up to date and is currently hosting a series of truly excellent evenings around London mainly but also up and down the country. Catch her while you can and buy this delightful woman a drink. She’ll be stellar within the month. It’s certainly going to be the focus of my own foreign and domestic policy.
© James Douglas August 2012 – James Douglas is music editor of Kensington and Chelsea Today. Douglas’ novel Morelli is due out in time for Christmas hopefully this one
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