A life lived between London and France is sure to bring varying influences to someone’s music, and in Brooke Sharkey’s five track EP, May, those influences shine through. This release follows on from last year’s EP A Taste Of Summer and hints at what’s to come in the album Brooke is currently working on.
The title track opens with Brooke’s trembling vocals over Jez Houghton’s French horn. A gentle acoustic offering lightened by her delicate touch on the guitar. There’s far more, though, to Brooke and her band’s irresistible music. The more upbeat Storm confirms her declared gypsy jazz influence; with drums, double bass and, especially, violin (Barney Rockford, Adam Beattie, Alastair Caplin) conspiring to create a French, Café Jazz atmosphere. Brooke’s vocals reveal a wider ability with a powerful, bi-lingual performance. As violin and vocals take the leading roles, Storm becomes a fiery, toe-tapping joy.
Autumn’s violin opening is reminiscent of a traditional Scottish fiddle tune (hardly surprising given Alastair Caplin’s work with Alasdair Roberts, John Langan and many others), but the song itself is all Brooke’s – poetic lyrics, lilting, lingering vibrato vocals in that distinctive yet discreet accent, and a relaxed pace.
Further diversification and a healthy disregard for musical boundaries are evident in Roundabouts and Scarecrows. Soft Jazz, flashing reels, a chorus of voices and evocative poetry, in both French and English, of course.
In closing, Les Amoureux is a more straight forward offering musically, but no less impressive for that. Brooke’s guitar and enthralling vocals tell a beautiful, complex tale of love and blind obsession.
Brooke Sharkey oozes confidence, and justifiably so. A vocal performance that seems to switch effortlessly between lithely melodic and fiery; and song writing that combines haunting poetic imagery with an impressive fusion of styles. With gigs such as the Jazz café, Ronnie Scott’s and the Troubadour, festival appearances at Glastonbury, Green man and Secret Garden Party under their belt, Brooke and her band are sure to broaden their audience and increase their already growing reputation.
Guitar & Voice – Brooke Sharkey
Double Bass – Adam Beattie
Violin – Alastair Caplin
Drums – Barney Rockford
French Horn – Jez Houghton
Accordion – Garance Louis
Review by: Neil McFadyen
JULY 28 Cock and Bull festival,
SEP 1&2 Smugglers Festival
SEP 1-2 Festival Of Jim
Brooke Sharkey’s May EP is available here on bandcamp.