REVIEW: Sarah Munro at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Sarah Munro
Photo credit: Leah Wiliams

Sarah Munro - Pizza Express Jazz Club
(9 August 2017. Review by Leah Williams)

At the tender age of 21, Sarah Munro might have been forgiven for lacking confidence or ease on stage or perhaps not quite knowing yet how to interact with such an audience. However, no forgiveness was required, as she was an easy and likeable presence throughout the whole evening, making relaxed chat and jokes throughout. Of course, Pizza Express Jazz Club does help that atmosphere along, with its casual intimacy and the very fact that, with dressing rooms at the back of the club, artists need to - and perhaps enjoy - walking through the whole room amidst the audience, often stopping to chat along the way.

There was a certain feeling of gratitude about the whole evening. At one point, when introducing her song Young Heart, she spoke about how at the age of 18, as all her peers headed off to university, she’d taken a leap of faith to follow her passion of music - and she seemed very glad she did, as well she might. Unquestionably very talented, Sarah has in fact just released her debut album Say Hello to You, the majority of which is made up of original compositions. Her voice is very impressive, with a natural songbird style reminiscent of the likes of Norah Jones or Katie Melua.

She’s also obviously an accomplished musician, playing several different guitars throughout the evening. It’s a musical family in fact, as it is her sister Alison Munro who joins her on stage on keys. It’s a shame there weren’t a few more siblings to take up there as, although today it’s not unusual for musicians to supplement their sound with digital samples or extra instrumental sounds, it is quite unusual for a live jazz venue to not at least have the base musicians live on stage with you. By taking away the computer and adding simply drums and a double bass, the whole sound and listening experience could have been immensely enriched. In a live setting, the computer-generated versions just don’t have quite the same ability to create a full atmosphere.

There is a wholesomeness about Sarah and her music that draws you in and makes you feel slightly better about things in this crazy world but at the same time does leave you perhaps craving something more. Some of her songs have more of an edge to them but the majority reside purely in this slightly safer realm, which whilst suiting her very mellow tones and easy-listening style, also makes you wonder what more she might still have to give.

I’m sure there will be plenty more to come and, as she continues developing her sound and life experience, I imagine her style might continue to head in the direction of such songs as For Eternity. The debut single from her album, which has been picked up by the likes of Jamie Cullum and Michael Ball on their respective BBC Radio 2 shows, offers the same pure sound but with a little more maturity and depth. Definitely one to watch for potential future brilliance - and, for now, for pure, easy enjoyment.

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