Julia Fordham

Julia Fordham

Live at Zédel at Crazy Coqs, London, U.K., July 21, 2017

Reviewed by Thanasis Kalantzis for Cabaret Scenes

Julia Fordham

British singer-songwriter Julia Fordham has a career that spans three decades. During this time, the seasoned artist has recorded 15 albums and has released 25 singles, regularly appearing on charts in the U.K., U.S.A., Japan, and the Philippines.

In her latest show, performing in front of scores of excited fans who knew her work well and have been following her for a long time, she gave us 18 beautiful jazz/pop songs and had us in the palm of her hand from note one, when she started singing one of her many signature numbers, “Falling Forward,” from her album with the same title. (It peaked at No.21 in the U.K.)  She also sang the beautiful ballad “Swept” (from her third album), and gave us two really amazing showstoppers: “Porcelain” from her second album with the same name which went gold in the U.K., and “Under the Rainbow” (co-written with longtime collaborator and pianist Grant Mitchell).

Another love song, “Love Moves (in Mysterious Ways)” from Swept, was featured in the 1991 film The Butcher’s Wife with Demi Moore. The heartfelt and thoughtful “Happy Ever After” (from her very first album in 1988 simply titled Julia Fordham) was originally written in protest to South Africa’s dark apartheid, but this time she dedicated it to the tormented people of Syria.

In between, she lifted the mood with a swing version of Blondie’s hit “Call Me” (Giorgio Moroder/Debbie Harry), and gave us a dreamy “I’m Not in Love” by 10ccs. Finally, at her invitation, we all stood up and danced to her closing number, “Stay.”

Fordham’s powerful and rich contralto is at the same time warm and inviting. She effortlessly delivers solid notes even when she dives into the lowest parts of her range. Her voice has weight and thickness, but even when its tone gets dark, it loses nothing of its feminine coloring. Combine her magnificent set of pipes with her sincere, meaningful lyrics, and you have a really outstanding evening out.

On her presentation, there was no arc or a story line to follow.

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They story she told us was through her songs, her singing, and her stage presence.

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She was confident, funny and oozing of personality while maintaining full connection with her band and a solid relationship with her crowd, the people who obviously love her and could not get enough of her.

Apart from the simply marvelous Grant Mitchell on piano, the songstress was brilliantly supported by Mark Neary on bass, Dave Clifton on guitar, and Miles Bould on drums.

Fordham will appear at Catalina Jazz Club, LA, on October 18 and at Joe’s Pub, NYC, on October 27 and 28. Pen the dates down. This class act needs to be witnessed.

Thanasis Kalantzis

Thanasis started reviewing for Cabaret Scenes in 2012. He started by reviewing primarily jazz and cabaret artists visiting from the U.S., but these days, he concentrates on British talent. Recently, he added covering musical theater to his duties. He was born in the heart of rural Greece in 1967. He studied Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki, worked as an excavator in the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, Santorini, and then spent two years on the beautiful island of Crete excavating a Roman village, among other sites. In 1991 he moved to London to study for his MA in Archaeology at University College London thinking that, upon completion, he’d return to Greece and continue with his excavation work. Nevertheless, he gave this amazingly diverse city a go, and started working with various companies, including the Horniman Museum, Sotheby’s and, most recently, the Big Lottery Fund, the organization that allocates lottery funds to arts and charities. His been in London for 26 years, and is happily married to his husband and runs a small, successful business.