11 April 2016


I looked up the definition of torch singer at the Laura Ingram gig. Torch songs are love songs typically of lost or unrequited love; mostly by women, but also by men (including Sinatra - good company) Laura sang with much emotion and involvement and that's what made me think of it. Certainly, some songs fitted the bill too, like Baby won't you please come home, I'm a fool, From this moment on, What will I do, St James Infirmary, perhaps Besame mucho, but there were others that were just ballads like Nature boy. Overall, I felt Laura gave her tunes a dense, deep, emotional treatment, so even otherwise lightweights like Bye bye blackbird, Pick yourself up, Sentimental journey, Squeeze me don't tease me and You make me feel like a natural woman were strongly emoted. I was wondering about her influences, perhaps Amy Winehouse for the soulful vocal style if not so much for the songs. Certainly, there was that raw emotion and strong voice and blues-influences there and a very nice soprano voice that will only tighten up but possibly also relax with more gigs. The band was more circumspect, Lachlan and James playing consummately, clearly in a jazz tradition and spelling solos with calmness and real class. Jamal, too, was unobtrusive and that's what I found last time I heard him, even in a solo to end the night which was all sparse rolls and fills punctuated by long silences. But the night changed markedly for a final unprepared encore, Hounddog in Eb, where the joy took over from the despair for rollicking solos and careless fun. Quite different. I like the bluesy emotions and ballads, but a whole night can be demanding. The place lit up with a throwaway 12-bar, and this just shows us all something about art versus entertainment. Well done, Laura.

Laura Ingram (vocals) performed with Lachlan Coventry (guitar), James Luke (bass) and Jamal Salem (drums) at Smiths.

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