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Karin Fransson “Private Behaviour” Album Launch – 5th July @ The Green Carnation

By James Simmins
Karin Fransson  
 
Although we don’t usually cover events outside of our geographical remit, I was given an exception to cover the launch of locally-based singer/songwriter Karin Fransson’s debut album at The Green Carnation, in Greek St, W1. 

Having just finished rehearsing with a local band myself, I ended up in a bit of a rush trying to make it to the album launch and, what with all of the usual logistical issues such as diverted buses, plus an incalculable number of drooling shoppers to circumnavigate as they sonambulated their way up Oxford St, I managed to miss the undoubtably excellent performance from (relatively) new Yardbird’s frontman Andy Mitchell. After managing to quickly get myself in without any potential Soho Bouncer related difficulties and having been relieved of two and a half quid for a glass of ‘coke’, I found myself among about 100 people in quite a small ‘sweatbox’-style club, surrounded largely by friends and acquaintances from West London! Whilst contemplating for a moment the wisdom of the location, I looked around for a suitable position to take notes, which was actually fairly difficult due to the incongruous layout of the venue.. 
 
 Karin Fransson “Private Behaviour” Album Launch
 
Grabbing my pen and pad to start note-taking as the band was about to start, I was assailed by the unlikely figure of ‘Dave Elvis’, a man who neither remotely looked or sounded like the man himself – this did somehow recapture for me the spirit of Soho from years gone by, the nutters, crazy clubs and Phil Dirtbox parties – it was endearing to think that there was still a mad streak to the old place and that it had not all simply become yet another possession of the corporate breadheads, as so much of the place seems to have. 

It was fairly hot inside the confines of the Green Carnation, which didn’t seem ideally constructed for these kind of events and the small area in front of the stage was made virtually inaccessible by the crowd of 50 or so people standing there. Having placed myself as well as I could, I was ready for the big event. After some upbeat banter about the one-off bargain album price of £5 from the evening’s hostess, Oneness Sankara, Karin and her band kicked in with the easy-tempo track ‘Ordinary Thing’, a wistfully observational track that I instantly recognised and was well performed despite a few early sound issues – possibly connected to a slightly small PA system. However the quality of the song shone through, and Karin’s vocals were confidently delivered over Nyika’s grooving basslines and the combination of these two elements glued the song together well. 

Karin Fransson “Private Behaviour” Album Launch
The second song ‘Serious’, another well-written, mid-tempo number, started with a walking bass intro that underpinned strummed chord changes over some very quiet drumming. Karin’s cleanly sung vocals then predominated as the band virtually dropped away and allowed the lyrics to take centre stage for this romantic offering. The song picked up a bit in the second verse and in the second chorus the drums kicked in, along with some great R&B style backing vocals from Debbie Copes & Eleni Mylona, before a pause that preceded a bass and guitar riff style middle-8, which itself lead to a big last chorus, before a slow bass outro.

If the first couple of songs were more reminiscent of an acoustic performance than that of a full band, then the third song ‘Move On’ was performed with a little more energy and gusto. With some slightly funky, but definitely jazzy, guitar work from Valentin Gerlier, some more substantially played drums from drummer Tim, as well as Nyika Goremsandu’s usually effervescent bass playing, this song sounded much more like a band effort. Having not heard this song before, I couldn’t help noticing a strong Al Green influence, which can never be a bad thing! With falsetto chorus vocals and a slightly funky break into the middle-8, before a classic soulful tone-up key transposition and concerted play-out, there were a lot of nice touches in this song, that made it sound more substantive than the previous ones. 

The 4th song ‘Effortless’, was a very slow jazzy number that made up for lack of pace with sublimely emotive lyrics – who can’t relate to such an idyllic fantasy of a relationship as that which is put across in this song? Somehow I was reminded of “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” (again by Al Green), although obviously this song was juxtaposed against the background of a very different emotional scenario! 

Karin Fransson “Private Behaviour” Album Launch
The next track, ‘Let It Go’, was very melodic with a great bassline and was probably, in my mind the best performed song of the evening. With some tasteful guitar work and some intricate chord changes that subtly stretch the key of the track here and there, this song exhibits a greater maturity of songwriting ability that I’d heard from Karin before and suggests that there may be greater things in the pipeline, which is obviously encouraging. Song 6 ‘Secret’, had quite a ‘Girl From Ipanema’ type feel and, whilst being pleasant enough, didn’t really leave the strongest impression.

The last song of the night ‘Up, Down or Out’ felt like quite a pop-style number that–again displayed Al green inspired soul sensibilities. A groovy enough number, this slightly vocally acrobatic track left the audience on an upbeat note 
Karin Fransson “Private Behaviour” Album Launch
as the show drew to a close. Despite cramming 100 people into a tiny venue, that possibly didn’t have the greatest sound quality, it was still a worthwhile performance and I personally found it interesting to see Karin perform with a full band for the first time. It was also the first time that I had heard some of the tracks from the album and it would have been great to hear an encore, but I guess that the performance was sufficient to give us the general gist of where they’re at. Unfortunately Omar, who was scheduled to make a guest appearance, couldn’t make it, as I was looking forward to chatting to him about his old band, who I knew from times gone by – oh well, there you go…

There is no doubt that Karin is a very good singer, who interestingly adds an R&B sensibility to her slow, jazzy music. Her songwriting as well is fairly accomplished and appears to be continually improving – at least from my perspective of someone who has seen her perform on countless occasions. Already a very good solo performer, who has been well-augmented by the incorporation of Nyika and Debbie to form her ‘Lady Trio’, there are undoubtedly greater musical riches to be achieved by regular performance with a fuller band. Interestingly, this performance somehow stepped back from making a final decision on this issue, with some tracks seemingly performed in a very minimalist style that seemed not to utilise the full band. 

Whilst I’m sure that Karin has a distinctive voice that would not be out of place in the world of ‘pop music’ that is forever driven by the sudden emergence and equally rapid disappearance of hair-splittingly fickle trends, whichever direction she decides to take is ultimately her own choice and I would hope that she invests the necessary time and energy into her project, so that she may achieve her ultimate stylistic goal. With Nyika’s consistently vibing bass playing, as well as Debbies graceful harmonies, she has 2 collaborators who are hopefully prepared to go the distance and have the ability to do so. Whilst the other band members performed very well and should be credited for their performance, I feel that the finalised line-up may need more experience with the band before they reach the same intuitive level of performance as displayed on stage by Karin, Nyika & Debbie.
 
Karin Fransson links:
 
 
 
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Comments   

#2 James Simmins 2011-07-27 15:47
:lol: Am still drinking a little, but have given up everything else! Hope you're well James, off to meet local rapscallion Piers Butler for coffee (that's as hardcore as it gets these days)!
#1 James Adams 2011-07-26 21:36
:-) Another great review from James Simmins considering he only had one glass of coke.

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