Moving to Liverpool in 2013 and settling here on a diet of open mics and festivals, Cross now sings with a 3-piece band who underpin her melodies with accompaniment that is at once delicate and pungently funky. Her originals ‘Hometown’, ‘When We Were Younger’, and Spotify debut ‘Italy’ are well-crafted soul gems reminiscent of the Lianne La Havas, Corinne Bailey Rae brand of soul RnB, and Cross delivers Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ with all the bitter sassiness of the beaten and bruised lover. Throughout the short set Cross’ velveteen voice rides the waves and troughs of musical climax with a powerful grace, without ever compromising on purity of tone.
Louis Jayy + The Soul Collective
A busy-sounding name but a tightly-bound ensemble. Their ever-present groove is established in set-opener ‘Sky Falling’, followed by ‘Ode to Friendship (Better)’ with a middle 8 that is, quite frankly, ace. ‘Black Beauty’ is also a highlight, as is the intro to ‘Livin My Life’ which has Jayy slipping in refrains from Mr. C’s ‘Cha Cha Slide’. Having never encountered a rap-fronted soul group, the set-up is refreshing, and allows a lot of space for experimentation. Keyboardist Joiada Thomas is a jazz improv pro, crunching chords in all the right (or wrong…) ways while the collective builds texture around him, the melodies rising and harmony going off-kilter as much as you would hope. Jayy’s easy delivery was at times reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar, with its oh-so-casual avoidance of main beats, and indeed the group slip into Lamar’s ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst’ while a faulty mic is replaced.
Both artists are actively gigging in Liverpool, so watch out for their names over the next few months…