The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes
Rebecca Downes is not a foxy blues singer she has the speed and cunning of a leopard. Anyone who has seen Rebecca live will have two burning memories, the imitation leopard skin coat and the fact that her vocals are not an imitation they are her own and totally real. He voice has a great range and turn of tone she stuns you with her dexterity as depending on the number she makes the lyrics, cajoling, tempestuous, husky or smooth. Who is Rebecca Downes some may ask, well the Birmingham based singer and her band have been gaining attention wherever they play. This is the very reason she has been voted Best Emerging Artist and Best Female Vocalist in the British Blues Awards 2016. They are a sensation.
Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Her voice dances around the lyrics and the musical backdrop her band skillfully delivers.
The live music is a perfect set to demonstrate the depth of Rebecca’s catalogue it is a statement that this is a blues singer who understands the power of the lyric that she shapes with her tongue. Be Live is definitely a statement of intent to deliver music that we want to hear live again and again.
The album is mix of covers and self-penned tracks. Opening with Never Gonna Learn, from her studio album Believe there is one thing for certain buy the album and hear her live to learn what a hothouse of blues music this girl is. This is blues with energy and intensity that makes for sweet hearing. This live performance shows that Rebecca is learning and her skills are being honed having opened for King King and Norman Beaker. With another of her numbers Fever In the Night, the light jazz feel and the feeling of seduction Peggy Lee’s Fever is immediate comparison for all the right reasons. There is a raw animal vivacity about her singing throughout the thirteen tracks.
We all like something funky with an intro of drums guitar and keys on My Sweetness as the band are introduced. They are more than a foundation they are the glittering rock that allows Rebecca to soar and play with the lyrics as she wraps them around her tongue and delivers them with sweetness. The band tonight are Steve Birkett (Rhythm guitar, slide guitar & vocals d guitar and co-writer); Rick Benton (keys); Dan Clark (bass); Lloyd Daker (drums) and Rik Sandford (lea). This is a track that has funky vibe with some hot Southern licks.
A cover that stands out on the album is Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind; often covered and Rebecca has re-shaped the classic to suit her delivery. Steve Birkett’s lead break builds with intensity and hurt, maintaining the tension as he fades Rebecca introduces him and the keys cool the emotions before she picks up the song again gentle with hurt and despair.
We have a gentler tempo with Sailing On A Pool Of Tears, the blues guitar has the tempo that counters the voice that is full of emotional hurt, the feeling of despairing loss captured within this heartfelt song.
Closing the album and another friendly comment that warns the audience to Rebecca as she says We couldn’t do this without you. Live music needs an appreciative audience as she closes out the night with Beatles classic, With A Little Bit Of Help With My Friends. There is no doubt that this album, touring Rebecca will be destined to make many more friends through her music in 2017.
Rebecca Downes – Be Live – Mad Hat Records
NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….
- Never Gonna Learn
- Fever In The Night
- Another Piece of My Heart
- Night Train
- Long Long Time
- My Sweetness
- Back To The Start
- Rather Go Blind
- Basement Of My Heart
- Sailing On A Pool Of Tears
- 1000 Years
- With A Little Bit Of Help From My Friends