REVIEW: Halie Loren at Pizza Express Holborn

Halie Loren
Publicity picture by Bob Williams

Halie Loren
(Pizza Express Holborn, 31 July 2018. Review by Lauren Bush)

As Halie Loren makes her way to the stage, there is a warm applause that is more heart-felt than usual. The room is filled with her fans that may have seen her elsewhere or only just listened to her large collection of records and are only now having the pleasure of seeing her live in London.

The first few songs have quirky, yet polished, arrangements to familiar songs that we know, like Sway and It Don’t Mean a Thing. Her quartet back her up with ease and although pianist Taurey Butler has come all the way from Montreal, the connection between him and the rest of the band is palpable.

Loren sprinkles some of her originals in with songs written by her favourite female artists. It’s nice to have a reminder of things from her past before sharing some of her brand new material. A telling ballad from a previous album, The Danger of Loving You, comes before a rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind – a tribute to Etta James that has elements of Etta, herself. It is obvious that Loren has really been moved by these classics and the emotion that she breathes into the music is almost kinaesthetic. Her personality shines through and the connection with drummer Troy Miller, guitarist Femi Temowo and bassist Alex Davis grows through infectious smiles.

Paper Man is the first song off From The Wild Sky tonight and it’s a great introduction to the new album. There’s sassiness in her voice and she manipulates it in all the best ways to convey the message. Loren soon moves over to the piano to play Painter’s Song, and there’s an ethereal quality to this one, with some of the most poetic lines from the album.

Loren tackles a few more classics from Carole King and Joni Mitchell before delivering another new tune about missing home called I Can’t Land. Her originals are believable and meaningful, and each one has a slightly different style showing her creativity.

The second set commences with a Spanish version of My WayA Mi Manera featuring Temowo on the guitar. Thought the two admit they had never played it together before, there was sheer joy between them as they navigated through it confidently. A Woman’s Way from an older album and the perky break-up song called How To Dismantle A Life has a chaotic playfulness about it. Loren’s character comes out during this one and it is clear how much fun she is having.

A funky version of familiar Bye, Bye Blackbird with the often-unheard verse is followed by an ode to her Nashville days with Ode To Billy Joe. This one features Alex Davis on the bass, playing a steady, funky bass-line with an equally story-like solo.

Another original, full of relevant themes, finds Loren serenading softly at the piano again, on Noah. Her versatility is clear as she effortlessly sings The Waters of March in English and Portuguese, and then we see her pick up a ukulele for the next song. The band encourage Loren to show off her skills on August Moon and then it is Taurie Butler’s turn to shine on Blue Skies. His sense of ease and style is reminiscent of Oscar Peterson.

Troy Miller hides happily at the drums, revelling in this new collaboration. It’s clear how much he’s enjoying getting to play Loren’s music live for the first time and that he’s proud to have produced this exciting, distinctive album together.

The evening winds down with Feelin’ Good, and one more original, before Loren welcomes her fans to join her at the signing table. She is enthusiastic and thankful and with all of these new relationships made, it won’t be the last time we see her in London.

LINK: Halie Loren interview

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review of Halie Loren's debut show in London! I had a privilege of catching her sets in Korea and Japan last month, and it seems several tunes that were not performed then were introduced to the audience in London. It must have been very special to hear the tracks from the new album, because I think part of it was recorded in that very city. :)

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