And then it happens again: mother London brings a smile back on our face with a special night and one of her most special people, in a room that feels too tiny to hold so much love and, indeed, so much talent. Camden hidden gem The Green Note opens its doors and arms to tonight’s punters, filling the atmosphere with laughter and expectations.
This is a most impressive debut by this London-born and raised singer and songwriter. Melissa arrives at DAY DAWNS following years of learning her craft from family singing in the kitchen to open mics, performing in Paris clubs and long periods of songwriting, both solo and co-writing with Ross Lorraine.
Brought up in London, Melissa acknowledges her West Indian heritage that steeped her in calypso, soca and reggae from an early age.
Gospel and church music were an influence too, although it was her sisters’ prompting to check out soul singers Anita Baker, Percy Sledge, Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack, plus exposure to Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday that formed her own voice.
A period in Paris playing clubs followed, before hooking-up back in the UK with musician/writer Ross Lorraine. It has led to a debut recording of impressive soul, jazz and blues, also featuring Tony Kofi (sax), Matt Park and James Pusey (guitars) and Dave Lennox (Hammond). Assured singing, refined playing and production plus an inspired focus makes for class music.
South London singer/songwriter Melissa James is already attracting a considerable ‘live’ following. This is no great surprise to this reviewer; the lady has an earthy soulful sound reminiscent of Maria Muldaur.
This magnificent debut album from singer-songwriter Melissa James announces not just the arrival of a remarkable new voice, but a writing partnership which has really taken flight.
The name Melissa James was a completely foreign one to me until this morning when, digging around on the interwebs for some new music to share, I came across two reviews of her debut album, Day Dawns. Before pressing play on any material I read both the reviews and got a feel for what I could expect when I pressed play.
Wow! What a debut album from this singer/songwriter whose soulful voice has something of the Billie Holidays about it.
And she can turn her hand to a tune too, with these compositions ranging from smoky-jazz to pop and the two covers here (Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well”) are spine-tingling.
Has she been on Later with Jools Holland yet? If not, expect to see her there very soon.
It’s obvious to even a casual observer of Britain’s jazz scene that there is a resurgence in the art of the song and the craft of the vocalist.
Singer/songwriter Melissa James is set to be one of the finest of this new breed: her unique approach to her craft is immediately apparent on Day Dawns, a strikingly beautiful debut from a vocalist with a deep emotional connection to her music.
Melissa James is a UK based singer/songwriter already building a following on the club circuit with her heartfelt mix of soul and jazz. That fan base is set to expand with the release of this, her debut set – a 13 tracker of varied material given a unity by her warm, velvety vocal delivery.
There’s lots here that’s radio friendly – notably ‘Little Caged Bird’ and ‘Sing’. Both are uplifting and they’d sit comfortably on the Radio 2 daytime playlist.
Brit-based singer/songwriter, Melissa James first began singing seriously while at university, influenced by the likes of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone and the writings of Joni Mitchell.
Acquiring a vocal coach who teamed her with composer and jazz pianist, Ross Lorraine, the two embarked on writing for the Joe Leach-produced project here, which has been some three years in gestation.