Live review from 15th Anniversary Party
2. Bad One For A Friend
3. Nothing Like Ours
4. You Won’t Be Down Forever
5. Snow Boots
Where’s Jules O’Brien been all my life? This girl is a musical force of nature. Not that you’d necessarily know it from her appearance, although she cuts an impressive figure, tall, attractive and radiating confidence.
Initially though, when the talented singer-songwriter and her band Sunset Moth go into first track “Chopsick” I found myself initially dismissing the quiet, quirky jazzy feel as slightly underwhelming. How wrong I was, dear reader! While their sound does draw on elements of jazz, it’s also informed by folk, rock, indie and pop to provide an irresistibly dynamic and original sound, underpinned by Jules’ compelling vocal.
Second track “Bad One For A Friend” kicks off with a 2/4 arrhythmically bop before heading into a driving chorus with a punchy No Doubt vibe, and confirms the quality of the writing and playing. “This is a new one, it’s about living in Hong Kong” Jules laughs, introducing third track “Nothing Like Ours” on which she switches from her well-worn acoustic guitar to keyboards. With a repeating chordal motif, it’s light and ethereal, before rocking out, finally returning to the intro’s plaintive piano melody to end. Divine.
Track 4 ”You Won’t Be Down Forever” has an extended, jazzy intro, light and delicate which echoes The Cranberries in parts before by turns becoming edgy, understated, vibey, impassioned and melodic – definitely a stand-out for me. Jules conducts the band while shaking her hair around becomingly as the epic track falls away to nothing.
Final track “Snow Boots“ is again forceful, rhythmical and melodic, tight and loose simultaneously, hanging together really well and bringing a brilliant set to a great conclusion. And of course it’s not all about Jules. The band – Noah, Godfrey, Joseph and Alex – are pretty amazing, demonstrating their virtuosity as each takes a mini-solo turn during the closer.
With influences ranging from PJ Harvey to Kate Bush, this set really grew on me, as did Jules’ sweet, clear voice, I found myself occasionally hoping she would cut loose and give it a bit more, Janis Joplin bluesy style, a persona that naturally seems to lend itself to her, and I couldn’t hear many of the lyrics, which was a shame, but otherwise a triumphant start to the evening and a high bar set.
– Dan Creffield