Live Review

Rose Elinor Dougall, Sebright Arms, London

Low-key and hugely likeable.

Some psychologists would have you believe that looking to your left when engaged in conversation indicates that the person is reminiscing. Trying to fire the neurons to access some buried hazy memory. Some hairdressers would have you believe that looking to your left when engaged in conversation indicates the way they’ve cut your fringe.

For Rose Elinor Dougall the truth is probably somewhere in between. Her songs, while undeniably poppy, do possess a certain bittersweet core. There’s the dreamy nostalgia of gazing back and the slight twinge of it being an unhappier time. Plus, she also has hair.

As a gig with the purpose of supporting the release of new EP ‘Future Vanishes’, there’s also the indication of a single more pressing piece of information. Rose Elinor Dougall can’t half write a good pop song. Songs which feel literate and whip-smart. Songs that bask in a doomy, eighties glow. Songs that are performed by someone with a voice that extends a pretty long and pretty distinguished line of English vocalists who make elegant haughtiness sound next to godliness.

On ‘Strange Warnings’ the guitar (provided by Oli Bayston, the “co-conspirator” and producer of the EP) has a shivery, Echo & The Bunnymen like feel, upon which Dougall stands and dreamily ponders. On ‘Future Vanishes’ the self-same guitar reflects the gloomy portent of The Cure, but then floats off into less gothy territory courtesy of that voice and the general lightness of her melodic touch. It’s that which is the most pervasive feeling here. There’s the overriding sense that Dougall really knows what she’s doing. Something which is helped by the fact that it’s not all teary-eyed laments on display. The handclaps and synths which dominate ‘Will You Won’t You’ are strangely reminiscent (eyes dart over to the left) of Olivia Newton John’s ‘Physical’ - only a bit less sweaty and a lot less likely to be seen dead in a towelling headband. There’s even one which ramps up the funk, ramps up the soul and comes over like Goldfrapp doing Rose Royce’s ‘Car Wash’.

Throughout, it is low-key and hugely likeable. The kind of show which suggests that Dougall, quietly and with a minimal amount of fuss, is emerging as a performer of enviable quality.

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