Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

VV Brown - Travelling like the Light (Island)

Light my fire

Little Boots, La Roux, Florence and the Machine... there are no shortage of English female newcomers in their early 20s who have been hyped to a ridiculous extent this year.

Add to that list the name of Vanessa Brown — a 6ft model and sometime Pentecostal choir singer with a penchant for rockabilly, doo wop and raw soul.

Brown may be just 25, but she's no overnight sensation. Her CV includes a stint singing backing vocals on Westlife tracks and an unhappy few years in LA working with Christina Aguilera's producer. The resulting album was never released and she had to sell her keyboard to fund her flight home.

Perhaps that experience — and the Westlife connection — will stand her in good stead because, unlike La Roux, for instance, Brown gives the impression of not taking any success for granted. She — more than most of her contemporaries — will be aware of how fickle this business can be.

But, even in a fickle world, it's difficult to imagine an album packed with as many potential hit singles as this one failing to light up the charts. Of the dozen songs, one could imagine at least six being A-listed by the daytime radio programmers — a high strike rate indeed.

Lead single Crying Blood — released last autumn — is typical of Brown's retro fascination. It's not quite as authentic as Imelda May's rockabilly, but it's as catchy as the best pop gets and this girl sure can sing.

To describe Shark in the Water as poptastic makes me sound like Simon Cowell, but, do you know what, this tune really lives up to that description.

Let's just say the millions who feel in love with Adele will find much to adore about this song. The lyrics are utterly inane, but then great dancefloor songs should be about beats and rhythm, not insightful words and this one has every constituent that an exemplary song for the feet rather than the heart needs.

The production team have been careful not to suppress Brown's singular qualities. Her personality shines through on most songs, not least Bottles — another composition bound to enjoy near ubiquitous airplay this summer.

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