Still too early for listing gigs of the year. However, the clear revelation of the year in terms of hearing someone live for the first time and certainly in my list already for inclusion in gigs of the year is Amanda St John. Listening to 'Talk It Out' I thought back to the London launch at the Green Note in Camden Town of Muscle Shoals from which it is drawn. It sends me there instantly. That night St John was completely at ease on stage. She has a warm presence. Her voice is nothing less than a soul experience and there are no meaningful borders between jazz and soul.
St John recorded the album at FAME in Alabama with some of “the Swampers” among the personnel at the studio where Aretha Franklin made history. The songs have a validity and authenticity to them borne out of a huge amount of turbulence in the singer’s life. It is only once in a blue moon that a singer as credible in this soul seeking style as St John comes along. She should be huge like Rumer and Duffy. Regardless as to whether this happens or not, the Dusty road is completely hers and her achievement whether live or in the studio speaks volumes already. Stephen Graham