Scene and Heard – CCCLXX: I Want You Back  – Sophia Evangelina (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Front_FinalSomeone wise once said that if you can strip a song down to just an acoustic guitar and it still makes an impact then it is a good song. That’s the acid test really, that underneath all the studio trappings and sonic embellishments, is the structure of a song sound enough to survive such a make-under. We all know that I Want You Back, the iconic Jackson 5 number, is a good tune but Sophia Evangelina shows that even as a funky acoustic busk it sounds as sharp and sassy as ever.

The first thing that strikes you is the seeming disparity between the impressiveness of her vocal and her young age, she sings with a power and a confidence of someone much older and the clean-limbed nature of the song means that it frames this vocal talent rather than competes with it. And with only an acoustic guitar, courtesy of Val Gaina, to accompany her, the result is a wonderfully fresh re-working of a song which already comes with large amounts of fun and infectiousness.

The video is largely filmed in the sun and surf of Venice Beach, a place with the right mix of colourful characters, creativity and coolness to make the perfect backdrop and the result is a visual display that feels as much like a holiday video diary as it does a music promotion, a natural collection of memories rather than a storyboarded and invented piece of work.

This single is the perfect calling card for her soon to be released album of covers, Butterfly, which in turn will surely raise more than a few eyebrows at the levels of accomplishment attained at such a young age. And whilst an album of covers is a perfectly sensible way to kick-start a pop career, I for one cannot wait to hear where her music goes once she is peddling her own creations. Exciting times indeed.

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Scene and Heard – CCCXVI : All I Could Do Was Cry –  Sophia Evangelina (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

29695310_2036810253258261_4709470230345154560_nThere is a rich tradition of artists using covers as a calling card, though maybe a better word is standards in this case, as Sophia Evangelina has chosen such an iconic song to announce herself with. And why not? They say that you only get one shot at making a good first impression and as they go, this is well….pretty impressive! Originally written for and performed by Etta James, but possibly better known in more recent musical circles from Beyonce’s version as she played the troubled blues diva in the film Cadillac Records, Sophia is nothing if not brave to follow in such footsteps.

But what Sophia Evangelina brings to the table is the perfect blend of historical resonance and pop modernity, with a voice which feels equally at home in the golden age of such blues-soul gems and at the cutting edge of the pop game. She steers the perfect course between the two channelling a retro vibe but never feeling like she is resorting to pastiche and for such a young voice managing to imbue the song with the required depth of emotion.

As calling cards go, its a memorable one and with an album due out that mixes covers from this era with original songs, she seems the perfect artist to rejuvenate those classic and keep them alive with a new and younger audience. We all know how great such iconic songs are, the art is keeping them alive with the next generation. Sophia Evangelina is just the girl for the job.

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