Manuela Woos With Spanish Soul at Cassette Nine, 13 August 2021

Manuela Ovalle Herrera is sultry and sweet. Some Spanish Stroll and lots of Soul. The Cassette Nine audience tonight are in fine spirit as Manuela showcases her new single and more.

The band tonight is Josh Johnston drums, Jono Mayer guitar and special guest Mazbou Q on five-string electric bass.

Manuela Sultry Jazz is opening song, Hoping to Find. Starts the set wearing a big white fur coat with huge fluffy cuffs. Gets shed straight after. The temperature is set to rise.

Maybe Someday and Manuela plays an acoustic guitar. A slow entry and a beautiful build-up. An older, Fifties sound of R’n’B blended with Pop that was Atlantic Records with the Bobbettes. English and Spanish lyrics blend and we are told it is her take on Mariachi.

That thick bass bottom features on Can’t Make Up My Mind. Soul with a Latin rhythm and the anchoring beat leads as the vocals drop out.

Telepatia is a cover of Grammy award-winning Colombian multi-artist Kali Uchis big hit. Latin Jazz and fast vocals.

Mazbou Q joins Manuela on vocals with Free of Time. Rap and Spanish R’n’B. They come up with a great synergy of American Street and Latino speed-natter. Electro percussion from the drummer.

Te Vas translates as Let’s Go or Bugger Off. Or both. A subtle Latin Pop rhythm. Bass played through the effects pedal. The guitar plays a chanks rhythm so it is Funk. Swings smoothly and is addictive. The single is feel-good Pop. On stage they add some sweat and pelvic thrust.

Encore demanded and she comes up with Autumn Wine. Dedicated to Mother who is standing at front of stage, and has a history in music herself. Beautiful delicate soulful phrasing and she comes on like Minnie Ripperton.

Mackensie Grace

Mackensie is a singer-songwriter of multi-faceted Pop tunes. She has been active for several years but is quite recent in her recorded output. Accompanied by five young men clad in white shirt and black trouser uniform. Drums, bass, keyboards, lead and rhythm guitars.

Takes a couple of songs to wind up. The voice gets buried in the slightly dull mix. The players are a tight unit who play Pop with some Folk elements and brief passages of guitar flash.

It comes together on Cruel and Crazy. Soft floating atmospheric singing. At the bridge the lead guitar winds up and takes off, the drums fire off in support. They finish sounding a little like the early Black Sabbath with a bit of Old Skool British Heavy Metal.

They take it to the bridge with a super version of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. Grace excels here as they give an extended workout to this Pop masterpiece. The bass takes it out on a nice vamp.

Most of the set is from new EP Our Night and the title track is melodic heart-warming Pop. The band is revving up now. Some nice shimmering keyboards. The singer builds in power and drama.

Also from the EP is Green. Pop with soulful accents and a good Disco rhythm. A definite KC and the Sunshine Band swing which they go out on.

Chris Bates

Chris Bates An up-and-coming young Pop singer, playing tonight with a drummer for support.

Chasing Cats. He has a smooth, higher register tenor which verges easily into soulful. Blue-eyed Neo Soul.

Voicemail. He writes songs with a Folk sensibility and drops the tone to quiet and delicate on a couple of songs. Accompanies himself on acoustic guitar.

After the quiet Folk comes soft falsetto and he brings out the English Soul side. With They Don’t Know a Thing About Me.

Has class as singer-songwriter with his heart in the Seventies Pacific-Coast American sound.

Manuela continues to impress each time we see her. Mackensie Grace cemented her strengths on the Fleetwood Mac homage. Chris Bates takes me back to a classic time of American singer-songwriters.

Confirms the overload of talent we have in this country at this time. Another golden age is breaking out.

Rev Orange Peel

NB: This show played the last Friday, before the Lockdown. Has been written after the current one suddenly dropped. It is hard to over-estimate the value of live music for all of us. All wait expectantly for the curse to be lifted.

Rev Orange Peel