THERE are few singers – or pianists for that matter – who generate as much warmth as Liane Carroll. Going to one of her concerts is like being invited into her front room at home in Hastings and greeted as if you are a long standing friend. It is one almighty love in.
Her charisma is infectious and her talent sublime as she pulls out numbers from a vast repertoire. Everything from songs her grandmother used to sing to her when she was six (‘If I Loved You’) through to more recently crafted creations (the beautiful ‘Seaside’, taken from her 2015 album of the same name and written by Joe Stilgoe). It is as if she possesses a library of songs inside her head as long as Hastings sea front.
Carroll’s appearance at Brasserie Zedel – The Crazy Coqs as was, now rebranded Live at Zedel – in London’s West End saw her on top form. With husband Roger Carey (an accomplished bass guitarist) in the audience providing moral support, she served up an enticing mix of jazz standards and ballads. Twenty one numbers in less than two hours – and with no more than water to drink (she has been tee-total for a year).
There were stand-outs aplenty, including a version of Tom Waits’s ‘Take It With Me’, Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘What Is This Thing Called Love?’, ‘Georgia’, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ (made famous by Ray Charles) and Donald Fagen’s ‘The Goodbye Look’. The penultimate song – a cover of Carole King’s classic ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ – almost brought the house down.
These were complemented with tracks from both Seaside and her latest album The Right To Love (‘Skylark’, ‘It’s A Fine Line’ and ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ – a homage to her mother who died in 2016).
A particular treat was Karl Charity joining her on stage to belt out a version of Tony Bennett’s ‘The Shadow Of Your Smile’ and demonstrate his expertise with the trumpet. Carroll has won a hatful of jazz awards stretching back more than 13 years – and quite rightly so. But to get to know – and feel – the real Carroll, you need to listen to her live.
She is a quite brilliant performer who lights up a room with her fun, music and joie de vivre. Self-deprecating, engaging and possessing a rich husky voice that will touch your senses. A marvellous musical force of nature.
If you are anywhere near Northampton, Tunbridge Wells, London, Brighton or Lyme Regis in the coming weeks, I would implore you to get a ticket for one of her concerts.
You will not be disappointed. It is like a trip to the seaside.