Although I’ve been a music blogger for quite some time, I only received my first album launch invitation a couple of weeks ago from jazz pop singer XSARA. Her new album Are There Dragons In Your Heart? was the cause of the invite and on arrival to the quaint little pub, I was greeted by the lovely lady herself armed with a goodie bag containing both the new album, her previous release Are You Living In A Paradox? and a couple of button badges. A spectacular dessert buffet complete with mini cupcakes, macarons and cheesecakes was laid on and as I settled down with a plate of deliciousness, I was excited to hear some music that was new to me.
First up was Irish singer-songwriter Rae Kelly who treated us to a set of piano-led tracks related through a beautiful pure voice. Accompanied by a guitarist, she charmed the crowd with songs such as Render All Your Thoughts. Surrounded by a quirky air reminiscent of Regina Spektor, the intimate venue provided plenty of scope for Rae’s songs to reach optimum resonance.
She was followed by a fabulous trio of ladies known as The Three Belles. So much more than a singing group, this 1940s swing tribute are great actresses and all-round showstoppers. Dressed in scarlet with immaculate hairdos, they performed a mixture of original material and covers. Their rendition of I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book threw up some amusing monkeying around while their version of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend rounded off their performance with style.
Changing the tone a little was Norfolk blues and roots duo Dove and Boweevil. Armed with a guitar and a tambourine, their set consisted of some folksy-pop songs with some great stories behind them. Playing songs such as Outta Town and Food For Love, they rocked up a storm on stage and were the perfect immediate pre-performance to the lady of the night.
When XSARA finally took to the stage and sat down at her keyboard, we knew we were in for a great time. Her whole band stood around her as she played songs from the new record which she admitted was pretty different to her first jazz-strong album. Toning it down and offering a less showy approach to new songs such as Sticks and Stones and Business Of Bodies. Touching on her previous material with One Eyed Man, she showcased the new record perfectly while the brass band faithfully provided the funk.
A full album review of Are There Dragons In Your Heart? will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. I’d like to thank XSARA for kindly inviting me along to the party, which was a really great night.