U’mau & Friends @ The Troubadour Club, London | Live Review

Live showcases come two a penny in London and are often a hit-and-miss affair. Thus it’s always a relief to stumble across up and coming acts who set such high standards that they leave the rest lagging behind. These discoveries are motivation enough to keep going to such events. Last Wednesday at the Troubadour Club, South-West London was a case in point.

I went with the intention of watching singer-songwriter U’mau perform some new material with her terrific band-and she did not disappoint. I didn’t bargain, however, on the room-silencing talents of composer, pianist and vocalist Jana Tyrrell, who took to the stage not too long before U’mau.

Miss Tyrrell by her own admission is relatively new to the live scene but is definitely an example of an artist who is close to being the complete package early on in her career. She started her PA with ‘Imperfect Masterpiece’ and as the title suggests there was something appealingly unpolished yet undeniably impressive about it. Jana’s confidence grew as her set progressed, revealing hints of the epic but accessible quality to her compositions that made Kate Bush a household name. Her voice has a soulful sensibility that doesn’t eschew the flavours of credible pop. There’s little doubt that Tyrrell’s name will be heard a lot more in the not too distant future.

Nonetheless not to be upstaged, U’mau delivered the goods for the many in the audience who came to support her. Incorporating Afrobeat, Bossa Nova, Folk and Soul into her sound, she is reassuringly difficult to pigeonhole. In turn, her voice has a soothing, almost child-like cadence that doesn’t place itself neatly into any particular genre. There’s nothing samey about the subject matter of U’mau’s songs either. This is ‘life’ music; she is as convincing on her inspirational numbers as she is singing about unfaithful friends and/or lovers on ‘Too Hot to Argue’.

Wednesday’s set also included the most distinctive interpretation of the Rod Temperton-penned Michael Jackson classic ‘Human Nature’ that I’ve yet heard.

When U’mau refers to her ‘amazing’ band she is not exaggerating. With the jaw-dropping skills of the likes of Femi Temowo on guitar and songwriting credits, these musicians bring the requisite energy to the main lady’s classy compositions that make for a very sophisticated, not to mention groove-worthy evening.

U’mau and Friends are:
U’mau – Vocals and Acoustic Guitar.
Femi Temowo – Guitar
Ayesha Pike– BGVs
Paolo Minervini – Bass
Graham Godfrey – Drums

www.umau.com | MySpace.com/Umau

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