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Camille Cole

by on 2 April 2021

Versatility, Variation and Verve

Camille Cole and Charlie Hugill

Live Lounge, OSO, on-line via YouTube from 31st March

Review by Vince Francis  

Firstly, a confession.  I was unable to watch the final webcast of OSO Live Lounge live.  But that’s one of the advantages of this format; one can watch on “catch-up”, much like a favourite TV series.  Camille Cole (vocals) and Charlie Hugill (piano and keyboard) had the honour of closing the series and, overall, did both themselves and the series credit.  I hadn’t come across either artist before and was unable to find out much on-line, which, I think, probably aids objectivity.  Camille is a versatile alto with wide-ranging musical tastes who also works with a band, whilst holding down a job in education.  Keep spinning them plates, lady.

We were treated to an eclectic 24 song set, which ranged in styles from show tunes and film scores through to chart hits, with a soupçon of jazz standards to add to the flavour.

The opening number You Are My Home was dedicated to the OSO team who have provided this and other excellent facilities throughout the lockdown period.  Originally written as a Latin-feel ballad for the 1998 film Dance With Me, it worked very well as a 1980s style power ballad and was sung with great heart and sincerity.

Camille was joined on stage by her daughter, Kia for a recreation of the 1963 mother- daughter duet between Judy Garland and Liza Minelli, which combines Happy Days Are Here Again (Ager/Yellen, 1929) and Get Happy (Arlen/Koehler, 1930).  Nice work, ladies. 

Amongst the other highlights in this varied set, some stand-outs for me were Wild About My Loving, which was credited to Imelda May, but which I think is a far older song, first recorded – again, I think – by Jim Jackson in the 1920s.  It’s a standard twelve-bar blues number which, like so many of that era, has no writer identified for it.  I liked Camille and Charlie’s version of Leon Russell’s 1970 ode to Rita Coolidge’s A Song for You, which doesn’t get the exposure it deserves.  I Can’t Make You Love Me also works well in a piano-vocal duet, as, of course, does Noel Coward’s Mad About the Boy and Rogers and Hart’s Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, all of which I thought were handled with aplomb.

There were also a couple of genuinely pleasant surprises in there, for example All We Do (Oh, Wonder, 2014), which featured Charlie on backing vocals.  This is a song which has been used as the theme tune for the excellent TV series Unforgotten, which recently finished, nicely reproduced here.  Also, I Feel It Coming (The Weeknd, 2017) worked better than I thought it was going to, so, hey, what do I know?

The set closed with two numbers from one of my personal favourite soul artists, the magnificent Stevie Wonder, from his 1976 magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life.

Knocks Me off My Feet is a reassuring song, with its warm chord voicings and familiar cadences and, in this instance, anticipates the advent of warmer weather and a return to more normal times as the spring evolves into summer.  Loves In Need of Love Today pleads for a return to civility and human understanding.  Both apt choices and a credit to Camille’s insight, I felt.

There were a couple of mishaps.  All I will say is that the adventure that is live performance always has us treading on the edge and sometimes we slip.  One thought I would offer, though, is to consider the songs that will work best with the ensemble on stage.  Songs that are born from a band often have signature riffs or solos from an instrument that may not be included and its absence will be felt.

Overall, though, a very satisfying evening’s entertainment and well received by yours truly and, indeed, the audience who were commenting on-line.  Well done to Charlie for his solid support and understanding of the broad selection of styles included.  The use of an electronic keyboard as well as a piano provided variation in the accompaniment, which helped to add colour to the set and added authenticity to the songs.  I should also mention Camille’s skills and enthusiasm on the array of percussion instruments she had available.  Nice cabasa!

Finally, I repeat my thanks and appreciation to OSO Barnes for this series.  I look forward to returning as soon as circumstances allow.

Vince Francis, April 2021

Photography by Kit Malton and Terry O’Neill

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