Published on May 24th, 2016 | by Gareth Allen0
Joana Serrat – Electric Circus, Edinburgh
Joana Serrat at the Electric Circus, Edinburgh, showed an artist already able to catch your breath with songs, and a performance, full of emotional depth and empathy, and a unique ambient and rootsy musicality.
She was supported by an excellent group of supporting artists. Jemima Thewes, vocals and ukulele, with Tim Lane on tongue drum, played a set of thoughtful songs, characterised by heartfelt vocals and unique instrumentation.
Small Feet, Little Toes has a lovely bluesy voice, and a nice percussive style of guitar playing. Her set drew you in with some powerful songs, where her voice really soared.
Joana Serrat introduced herself to an appreciative Edinburgh audience, sharing that this was her first time in the city, and she was looking forward to presenting her new album Cross the Verge in an acoustic way.
‘Lonely Heart Reverb’ began the set, with Joana’s haunting voice floating across the candled tables at the front of the stage. The song contains the very plaintive lines:
‘Once upon a time I
Felt in blue
Yet I knew
I’d met someone like you’
The way Joana sings and embodies her lyrics means that these words stay with you long after the gig.
‘Flags’ has some wonderful shimmering guitar, and Joana has her eyes tightly closed and is fully in the moment as she sings the immersive chorus with a real sense of loss in her voice:
‘All that matters
Lost in battles
Waving all the flags that
We don’t own’
Joana introduces ‘Saskatoon (Break of Dawn)’, sharing with us that “I have never been there, but one night I dreamed all I needed was Saskatoon.” It’s a very engaging way to introduce the song, and the country-tinged vocal seems to just roll off the stage, bathed in warmth and empathic understanding. ‘Solitary Road’ has a lovely rolling melody, and Joana rocks gently back and forward, perfectly aligned with the melancholic mood of the song.
A set highlight is ‘Cloudy Heart’, played in a joyfully melodic and rhythmically infectious style. It’s a song that has a strongly redemptive feel, which Joana communicates musically, and with the way in which she makes gentle eye contact with the audience.
It is a mesmerising set throughout, and the suite of songs from the new album show a real maturity of song writing, imbued with themes of loss and redemption and deep emotional depth. In performance, Joana is able to take her songs to moments of great intensity as well as to the gentlest of moods. There can be absolutely no doubt that she is an amazingly talented artist and songwriter.
At the end of the gig, Joana said she hoped to come back to Edinburgh with her band. We hope so to! It will be so exciting to hear these songs in a full band setting.
All gig photographs by Lewis Allen.