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Review: Eva Abraham

Review of Eva Abraham by Sarah Ellen Hughes
(Jazz Cafe, September 16th 2009)

(Welcoming a new writer, and a fine snger in her own right to the pages of LondonJazz!)

It was a confident and charming Eva Abraham who strode onto the Jazz Café stage last Wednesday. She was there to launch her second album Full Circle, which comprised most of the set, although she included 3 or 4 from her first album Shadow Gazing.

She began with the first track of the album, Babe you know me, which she sang whilst playing the piano. Eva immediately showed her mettle as a confident and experienced singer and musician – her ability to sing to the crowd whilst both playing the piano and communicating with her band was endearing.

Eva quickly got up from the piano and transferred to guitar, which provided an excellent backdrop to her luscious voice. I preferred the timbre of her songs with guitar: it seemed that she did too, as the guitar appeared to free her up – she unleashed a more daring side to her voice – it grabbed the attention more completely.

I found her style and voice reminiscent of All About Eve’s Julianne Regan, especially during Breathe – it which reminded me of Martha’s Harbour. For this song, Eva chose to abandon her instruments and be accompanied by solo cello. I found this to be an interesting choice, but it wasn’t to my taste for an entire song, as Eva with exemplary dynamic control and tuning was let down by some waywardness in both from the cellist. She found a better match in a vocal and piano duet for the next song – Bittersweet Goodbye – and I appreciated the variety of tones, dynamics and timbres that this brought to the set as a whole.

As well as Abraham’s versatility to play different instruments, and sing whilst doing so, she has an incredible versatility in her voice, a great ability to float between registers without any thought, and without any loss of intensity or intonation. The band, too, were able to swap their instrumental roles, with the bassist moving onto the piano and the guitarist taking over on the bass. The arrangements were incredibly tight and well-penned. This was a very slick set.

My particular favourite was Eva’s eighth tune Non-stop, which had much energy and was the most memorable of the set. But it was Star – the penultimate track from the album – that really got the crowd going.

I left the Jazz Café with a tune or two in my head. But it was a shame that Eva didn’t tell the stories behind any of the tunes. I am sure that there must have been interesting reasons behind their composition, and I wanted to know them. After an hour of her compositions I was left with a nagging wish to feel more connected to her and her story. Despite this, the overall energy and variety in the set was enjoyable, and perhaps I’ll get to know her better as each audience member was given a snippet of Eva to take home with them– a Limited Edition of Full Circle.

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