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Julia Fordham – Live & Untouched

Julia Fordham
Live & Untouched
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, October 26, 2016

English songbird Julia Fordham seemed positively ebullient at her recent gig at Feinstein’s, probably buoyed by her latest live CD release and recent US citizenship. Certainly she was affected by the sheer adulation afforded her by her adoring and loyal fan base. Fordham, who was in great voice, delivered one of her finest live performances.

Fordham comes from a golden age of female singer/songwriters, having developed fine attention to her deeply emotional, poetic lyrics.  Her metaphors paint lovely pictures, like in her hit “Porcelain” where she tells her lover “’you treat my skin like porcelain, rare and special porcelain”.  Her musical style is part pop, folk and a little jazz, similar to her icon Joni Mitchell with the stunning imagery of a Nick Drake. There’s a deep sadness to her bittersweet love songs, a palpable heartache heightened by the slight quiver in her soprano. In “Girlfriend”, Fordham is a wounded soul, asking her ex-lover to hold her while she sorts out her life. She exhorts him to “Don’t push me for my reasons, or expect me to explain, how can I in five minutes shift a lifetime’s hidden pain”. We’ve all felt vulnerable and exposed in love and Fordham’s songs, like “Towerblock”, are touchstones to those feelings.

Backed by the beautifully lyrical pianist Jon Gilutin, Fordham accompanies herself on the acoustic guitar, tambourine, bells and shakers. Her voice is clear and precise and you listen to her with rapt attention. It’s not all Sturm und Drang in her material. There’s an optimistic, if not proactive perspective to love. “(Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways” (Tom Snow, Dean Pitchford), a huge hit for Fordham, speaks to longevity of romance, while in “Love”, her commitment is so strong she’d take a bullet for her man.

Fordham bantered with fans, accepted champagne and gratefully acknowledged the enthusiasm and love offered by her fans. She closed the show with the moving “Stay”, a plea for love’s assurance of togetherness, followed by new tune “Songbird”, inspired by the 2nd presidential debate and her beautiful “Skipping Under the Rainbow”.  Fordham is a rare songbird indeed, able to evoke expressive landscapes of the heart that touch you with their range and depth. Her songs wash over you like a healing waterfall transporting you into a shared experience that must be not only heard, but felt.

 

 

 

 

 

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