The Weather Up Here – Niki Kennedy (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

That Niki Kennedy is no stranger to musical theatre and stage productions is evident in her voice right from the start. That combination of delicacy and power, control and confidence which is a requirement for such a career means that vocally she can explore sounds that your average pop wannabe would fear to tread. It also means that whilst The Weather Up Here is unashamedly a pop record, albeit one infused with soul and jazz touches, it bristles with a maturity not often found by her would be pop peers.

The e.p. title relates to the fact that at over six-foot tall she has always fielded humorous weather forecast related enquires but the five tracks found within it are anything but tongue-in-cheek, instead wandering sleek and sensual musical byways as well as offering infectious and accessible moments.

Cheque, Please is a soul-pop groover that would give any number of current divas a run for their money, it is as sassy as it is sultry, an uptown, late night, dance floor anthem if ever there was one and Bringing Me Down combines beat and beauty to maximum effect. But for my money it is her more chilled, balladic songs that deliver the most memorable moments. I’m Your Girl oozes timeless grace as her voice weaves through plaintive piano and delicate cello washes and All I Need is pop boiled down to its most emotive, most honest and most effective essence.

Considering that this is her first time out the e.p. is a memorable first step. The songs may be discussing familiar subjects of love, loss and longing, the highs and lows of life and everything in between, but rarely is it done with such grace and deftness. Niki Kennedy has the ability to remind pop that the benchmarks can be a lot higher and anyone working in such territory should see The Weather Up Here as a challenge being laid down.

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