Concert Review: Women About Sound Present Sahara Adams, Joanne Slagel, and  Manuela, Wine Cellar, 17 September 2020

A quiet night in Auckland. A city being beaten into submission. Three highly talented young female musicians turn on the bright lights with passion and some fire. Sahara Adams, Joanne Slagel and Manuela. Acoustic and minimalist in presentation by the necessity of the times. All three transcend any limitations effortlessly.

Sahara Adams starts first. Dave is also on stage playing acoustic guitar. She looks young and I am assuming she is new to performing, as I have no other information on her.

But she delivers a strong set of original songs.

Better, Out of Touch and Problem all start with simple guitar rhythm riffs. Each song Sahara starts quiet and subdued, and gently builds in intensity. A strong voice with good control.

Songs of romanticism, personal growth. I would say love is in there somewhere when I get the chance to hear them again. Not too far from a Taylor Swift, in physical appearance as well as performance. There is some Alt Country and Indie Folk here too.

Just to emphasis the point, she covers U2 and With or Without You. It fits right in with her own three just gone. A great love song and for the brief time we listen, she owns it.

Never Let Me Go is described as a ballad. It is quieter and pretty. I see the distinction with the closing song Fine. A nice stepping rhythm to engage the body. If we were allowed to break loose, get up and dance. Or sway.

Joanne Slagel does not look much older, but has been performing longer. A variety of settings. Trumpet in jazz outfits. Wedding singer. Music teaching. Writing musicals. There are albums and singles to pursue.

On stage solo with an acoustic guitar and loop boxes. Never Let Me Go is an original. A melodic contemporary Pop voice, but not confined to this. A simple rhythm and the weather outside is raging and bleak. Inside it is warm, sensual and sexy.

A complete change is Unified New Zealand. Written in the aftermath of the Christchurch tragedy of 2019. Borrowing a little from God Defend New Zealand, this is Folk of the Old-School plain-speaking type. Peter Paul and Mary. It has a subtle reggae background and is generally uplifting and optimistic.

You’ll all recognise this says Joanne. I hear Season of the Witch as the song starts, but it’s actually Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.  Really stretches out here with a fine Soul Jazz vocal. Then picks up a trumpet and lays out an astonishingly good solo. A soft Funk rhythm plays. Say hallelujah!

Broken Parts is a recent song trying to make sense of the craziness that is 2020. Not over by a long shot either. Super song, swings from Folk to Jazz singing and back. I can’t sleep/ What’s the matter with me.

Ninety-Two is a sing-along. A bit of Beatles doing English music hall. Dances and bounces along. Does get the subdued audience to participate.

Leaving Home dedicated to leaving her church. A gentle acoustic guitar, and a great Folk Pop workout. Moonlight has a Latin Jazz rhythm married to a Folk verse. Adds a nice Mexican horn break.

The triple is completed by the diminutive Manuela. Manuela Ovalle Herrera. And what a great voice she can belt out. Meaning that with great respect because at times I thought I was listening to the Latin Janis Joplin. Colombian, truth told.

Not much taller than the acoustic guitar she carries stage. Starts with She’ll Never Know. A Pop song sung with a Jazz Soul voice. On this one she reminds me of Minnie Ripperton.

Bearded Josh then comes on stage and provides box percussion. A palindrome presentation for Women About Sound tonight.

Till Morning and now Manuela really stretches out. Soul Jazz and sultry. Has a large range vocally and holds the intensity at the higher register.

Takes this expressiveness, the ability to go soft and then intense on the next one which I will call Maybe Someday. This is where you hear some Janis.

Mariachi music is explained as Blues in sentiment, executed with Latin passion and cries of relief. Or just cries. The heat rises. Superb singing on this and the next which may be called Bey La Contio. Samba rhythms raise the temperature.

Hoping to Find has some Rap slotting in naturally with a playful Soul Jazz vocal. Rhythm and Strut.

Closing the night is You’re Leaving in English. Ta Vas in Colombian? Big Latin beat, a lot of Soul. This is where you get up to do the hip shake with Spanish Joplin.

Really a super evening of great music from three talented women. Manuela dropped a hint she will play the Thirsty Dog soon. I am sure Joanne and Sahara will be out and playing again soon.

Rev Orange Peel