There’s something innately intimate about letting someone into the way you cover material – particularly popular music. The same can be said for the talented musicians in the Soft Sessions Live in Concert featuring Danielle Fiamanya, Courtey Stapleton, Grace Mouat, Eloise Davies, Martha Kirby and Jake Halsey-Jones.
The songs covered and personalized range from ‘Hide and Seek’ by Fatai to ‘Never Too Much’ by Luther Vandross and for the most part encourage a mellow and relaxing atmosphere. It’s a rare diamond in the rough opportunity when you get to listen to performers sing without trying to wow the crowds with big belts reaching the back row. Halsey-Jones’ rendition of ‘All Fired Up’ by Matt Corby is a perfect example of this effective storytelling through music. The simplicity of the chords exposes the luxury of Halsey-Jones’ vocal fluidity leaving you in awe at the sound he is producing.
The entire collaboration, with musical direction from Alex Beetschen, feels very easy to listen to and watch. It’s great to see the ‘accompaniment’ sharing some of the spotlight with Harrison Wilde on guitar and Beetschen on piano creating a shared and universal relationship through music. This is a highlight of the performance as Kirby sings ‘Resentment’ by Beyonce with a stripped back accompaniment featuring Wilde with incredible craftsmanship on the guitar that complements and creates a magic between the music and the vocals accumulating in a spine-chilling performance.
The tech setup is impressive: the audio quality with the acoustics of the very trendy, hip “studio” vibe makes this an intimate gig and really sucks you in. Callum Heinrich’s tracking camerawork, if a tad avant-garde, has you feeling as if you are in the room despite the limitations of the pandemic.
Interestingly, Pamela Blair (producer, alongside Harrison Wilde) says “there’s a wall between music and musical theatre.” Not only is this debunked by the talent in this Soft Sessions Live in Concert, but I think the relationship is closer than we might think – I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find a performer who doesn’t have an intimate relationship with music that drew them to singing and storytelling in one way or another; perfectly summed up by the interviews in the piece where each artist explains their relationship which is so raw and human to watch.
This producing is exactly what we need to keep reminding ourselves of our identity and love for entertaining talent and sharing the music we love!
Soft Sessions is on Stream Theatre until 2nd May 2021.