A review of an evening at The Basement to mark the release of Meeshelle Newell’s first single. Saturday, 26th October 2013.

Meeshelle Newell 2

There is no doubt that Dave Lynch and his collaborators at The Village are on the cusp of creating something really quite special in the centre of this small city. They have taken hold of a space and slowly but surely The Basement is becoming one of those unique venues that has the potential to produce an oppressive, intense and unforgettable night out. Tonight it is dedicated to a particular passion of Dave’s, soul, preferably with a northern flavour. Ahead of this evenings main event Dave is spinning some classic soul tracks from the obscure to the more popular and folk are loosening up nicely.

Meeshelle Newell 3Tonight, The Basement hosts an event marking the release of Meeshelle Newell’s first single. Meeshelle takes to the stage area supported by the usual suspects, her soul, jazz, funk and pop inspired friends and collaborators from The Leonard Jones Potential (TLJP). Looking splendid in red she introduces a hint of glamour to the venue and in the subdued lighting she shines a wee bit brighter than most. Now, I’m not at all familiar with TLJP and I have a sense that in the context of this evening that’s a good thing. Having seen Meeshelle support Candi Staton at The Ironworks earlier in the year she is fairly well embedded in my head as a solo artist.

Meeshelle has undoubted technical ability and there is real sense of versatility about her voice. So, while she has settled on a jazz/soul inspired set one has a sense that she could sing pretty much anything she pleases. A friend of Meeshelles tells me she has always sung and that she loves to sing, and that last point, that ‘she loves to sing’, comes across pretty strongly this evening. Throughout, we are treated to a performance that contains liberal doses of vocal beauty, whether that be with the full band or, more particularly, stripped back to just piano and/or guitar accompaniment.

Meeshelle Newell 7A big reception from the crowd welcomes a set that is varied in tone and pace, arrangements are pretty damned solid and there are some interesting cover versions going on. Covering Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ didn’t take anyone by surprise but ‘Lovesong’ from The Cure and ‘There is a light that never goes out’ from The Smiths were inspired. Indeed ‘Lovesong’ features on the single. We have been promised an album in the new year and tonight a new song, the slow jazzy soulful ballad ‘Runaway’, features in the set for the first time, a nod to the content of the forthcoming album perhaps. In a similar style, the song ‘Slow’ also caught my ear. All of this however was window dressing for the last song of the set, the single, ‘Take The Time’, and, I liked enough of what I heard to buy it.

So what of ‘Take the Time? Some songs are intended to deliver a lyric; this song is intended to deliver Meeshelle’s voice. A delicate melodic jazz inspired guitar hook and a restrained arrangement wrap around Meeshelle’s vocals to good effect. In addition, credit has to be given to some fine production values here. Lyrically, it’s not profound but that’s not the point. The relaxed melody works well with what is a wistful melancholic narrative of reassurance delivered with a vocal intimacy to suggest that the scenario is all about love rather than lust. Sigh. And it’s good, because you want to know what happens next: maybe one for the album?

Keep an eye on Meeshelle via her website and click to ‘Take the Time‘ to buy the single.

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Life-long engagement with music and a truly eclectic taste (although prog-rock and metal will usually have me scrambling for the off button). If pushed, I would have to say the Velvet Underground are one of the most important band’s of all time. Although I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, as regards reviewing I guess I cut my teeth in the vibrant fanzine scene of the 80’s. Around the same time I started taking photographs and, to be brief, performance and photography were made for each other: perfect match.