Norma Jean Martine - Servants Jazz Quarter, London
It’s been a funny old journey for Norma Jean Martine. She’s come from the US to the UK, written with Burt Bacharach, and written for Ronan Keating. She launched her career in the UK back in 2014 but we didn’t see an album from her until 2016. It was worth the wait though as Only In My Mind made our list of our favourite albums of 2016.
Her first live show of 2017 demonstrated why she has a chance of being a much bigger act than she is today. The thirty or so people squeezed into the Servants Jazz Quarters in London were treated to a forty minute show that had the best of Martine, and a timely outing for her version of George Michael’s ‘Freedom 90’. Despite it’s unplugged heading on the posters the New Yorker has managed to pack a full band onto the tiny stage with her, and they’re a quality bunch.
The show is more stripped back than a real full band show would be, and the best moments come when it’s just Martine, on a totally acoustic version of the album title track for example. With an instinct for melodies, such as the loser tonight ‘No Gold’, and a great line in soul baring lyrics (“We could stop this now before it starts / I've still got bruises, I don't need more scars”) there is a bright future for the 23 year old. Her songwriting smarts are only enhanced by her voice which is wonderfully rich, smoky, and nuanced live and really adds to the feeling that big things lie ahead in 2017.