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Review: Sarah Jane Morris, Holt Festival

08:14 25 July 2014

Sarah Jane Morris at Holt Festival. Picture: RODNEY SMITH

Sarah Jane Morris at Holt Festival. Picture: RODNEY SMITH

Copyright: Rodney Smith

Sarah Jane Morris

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Holt Festival

Her deep jazz voice is best-known as the low counterbalance to Jimmy Somerville’s falsetto in the mid-80s Communards hit Don’t Leave Me This Way.

But there is so much more to Sarah Jane Morris, who has carved a career of her own delivering message-laced, self-penned songs in her unique style in a series of solo albums and compelling live stage performances.

A previous visit to Holt festival was in an intimate jazz duo.

Her return was with the superb nine-piece Fallen Angel Band, and a large helping of pulsating African beats featured on her new Bloody Rain album.

Twinkling guitars, pounding drums and the dancing bass of Henry Thomas were the infectious soundtrack to songs dealing with deep subjects ranging from the hardships of life in Africa to homophobia.

Sarah Jane’s rich voice, erupting from the shock of red hair atop an intense hand-trembling frame, surfed on the waves of music and occasionally plunged to seabed-deep bass notes.

There was also a calypso about Aids and a version of Deeper Well, previously sung by artists including country queen Emmylou Harris.

Encore time saw a change of mood to a singalong gospel style version of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released and a reggaed-up soul classic Piece of My Heart - by which time Sarah Jane had already won a piece of the audience’s.

Richard Batson

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