This week, House of Coco was cordially invited to attend the listening party of up and coming singer Rebecca James at the Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square, London. We listened in….
20 year old Rebecca James cites Elton John, Alicia Keys, Frank Ocean, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce as her influences so it would be easy to presume she’d be a fusion of soul and RnB with perhaps a sprinkling of good ole pop for good measure.
With this in mind and without sounding patronising, it was a pleasant surprise to see that Rebecca had a live band set up. There wasn’t a Mac or suspect auto-tune machine in sight. First impressions: Rebecca James is no wishy-washy pop songstress who insists on lip-syncing lazily over a sub-standard, generic sounding backing track. A young singer who revels in treating her audience to real live music. So far so promising. And when Rebecca James bounded on stage with great presence she immediately connected and engaged with her audience. A great start.
Rebecca James’ rendition of Elton Jones’s “I’m Still Standing” showed off her musicality and how she interprets songs which once again demonstrate her emotional connection through the power of song. However a lot of her slower tempo tracks were perhaps too ambitious for her syrupy, delicate voice but where she failed to deliver in terms of a big, belting soulful crescendo, she made up for in terms of great story telling, relatable, catchy songs that will definitely have you humming it long after its been played.
Her emotional song “Soldier” which she sang whilst playing the piano will resonate deeply with anyone who had to face adversity and another standout track “On My Way” started off brilliantly. It began haunting and melodic with Rebecca casting a spell with her lyrical ingenuity then suddenly switched in its more up tempo remix featuring rapper V Simmons. The exuberant energy V Simmons brought on stage was a necessary component for the night to ensure things on stage stayed varied and dynamic; which Rebecca joyously bounced off on…just not on this song. It wasn’t the right fit. Instead of complementing Rebecca on the track as a featured artist he almost overshadowed her quiet confidence with his staggering bravado.
Rebecca James is an interesting paradox. She’s definitely an amazing songwriter. She definitely feels and sings every word with conviction. She demonstrates her musicality with ease. Yes she may not be the best singer out there but she’s definitely by far more talented than most.
Look out for her…come a year with more live performances and even more great songs she’d have churned out by then, Rebecca James may very well be the UK’s next biggest female export. (After all, it’s time someone gave that ingratiated, media peddling I’m-meant-to-be-a-hot-right-now-singer-but-I’ve-only-sang-one-decent-song-for-four-years-and-I’m-still-working-on-my-second-album-since-like-forever Rita Ora some real competition.)
*Mixtape which will be available from November 23rd*
Review by Kelly Chin