PHOEBE Katis is one of the country’s most promising vocalists and songwriters. Widespread acclaim surely awaits.
Although still in her mid-20s, she has just completed her debut album (Honesty) which is riven with songs about love and all its tangled knots. Boy does she write from the heart and boy does she deliver her songs with an undercurrent of Beverley Craven (another songstress who writes about broken love and relationships) and a veneer of Lily Allen (quirky lyrics).
She is easy on the ear although you wonder whether anyone will find lasting love after listening to some of her songs. In terms of love and relationships, Katis (based on her music) has done more cartwheels and somersaults than most people accomplish in a lifetime.
Appearing at Pizza Express Live (Holborn, London) on Wednesday May 8, she demonstrated her considerable talent with a mix of covers and songs taken from Honesty (and some that did not make the final cut). It was a pared back performance with Katis either on piano (where she is most comfortable) or guitar. The only accompaniment was a vocal backing track to enhance some of her songs.
There was much to admire in two tight sets. She began with three songs taken from Honesty (produced by Cory Wong) – Make Believe, All It Takes and Nothing Left. Tracks laced with messages about being honest with yourself and being forgiving.
Two covers followed – How Deep Is Your Love (made famous by the Bee Gees) and Carole King’s So Far Away: ‘Holding you again could only do me good, oh how I wish I could but you’re so far away.’ King, we find out, has been one of the biggest influences on Katis’s music.
Two somewhat sombre – and new – songs followed: Life Is But A Game (all about depression) and Sometimes It’s Meant To Hurt (love, that is). She then finished her first set with Maybe – a song questioning whether she should have forsaken her musical career for a solid nine to five job and a nice looking guy (the answer is an emphatic no).
The second set comprised Night Caller (another new song) as well as further tracks from Honesty – Anyway (‘I don’t need to love him’) and the title track (‘all you need is honesty’). She even performed Me & You, a powerful song that did not make it on to the album (it should have done). ‘You walked out of my life.’ Oh dear.
But a vibrant version of Ariana Grande anthem Thank You, Next was uplifting (and delivered without swearing) as were covers of Gravity (John Mayer) and Gretchen Parlato’s Better Than (it pulled hard on the heartstrings).
With Katis completing her set with Touches (‘nobody touches like you’), this was a performance full of promise. America and the Edinburgh Festival follow – as does a long and successful career if she keeps cranking out such poignant lyrics. Katis is one to watch, that’s for sure, but bring along a handkerchief just in case the lyrics are all too much for you.