Live Review: Sophie Delila at the Jazz Cafe

Sophie Delila

Sophie Delila - Credit: Archant

When you grow up with a piano-playing father who is friends with Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye, you surely can’t help but fall into music

Sophie Delila

London Jazz Cafe

Thursday June 13

When you grow up with a piano-playing father who is friends with Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye, you surely can’t help but fall into music. This certainly appears to be the case for Sophie Delila, but now she is rising, rather than falling, towards the top of France’s hottest pop exports.

With her band already jamming on stage at the Jazz Café last Thursday, Delila glided down the stairs and entered the fray, launching into disco feet-mover ‘If I should die tonight’.

One thing is immediately apparent – the girl can sing. With instrumental backing similar to fellow 80s-tinged-contemporary Jessie Ware, there is a clear potential here for a talent that can take on the charts without auto-tune.

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Delila has previously sung live with New Wave revivalists Nouvelle Vague and Plan B. Playing to an intimate crowd in Camden, these experiences seem to have given her an inbuilt confidence and charisma that keeps the audience hooked even when some of the songs occasionally descend into overly-trodden pop melodies.

In fact, the duo of ‘What did I do’ and ‘Bound to fall’ illustrate where Delila is most unique. A piano player since the age of five, the combination of soulful keys and vocals, mixed with subtle, driving beats lends her songs an intensity that continues to relentlessly crescendo.

Few voices could continue to hold their own in the latter stages of these songs and it’s remarkable to see a singer not just rise to the challenge, but raise the stakes even further against the drums, guitars and synths so effortlessly.

A cover of Rhianna’s ‘Diamonds’, albeit well performed, wasn’t perhaps suited for a Jazz Café crowd and perhaps shows a slightly over-enthusiastic drive to appeal to the masses. Delila certainly looks like a rockstar – donning a striking Scary Spice haircut, she jokes about her teasing dress sense, mentioning how glad she is that the Jazz café is an over 18s venue.

Returning for a glowingly-received encore, she finishes strongly with another highlight, the R&B inspired ‘Nature of the crime’. With influences so diverse, Delila has the musical talent and rock n roll look to make them count. If she chases these influences, rather than paying tribute to chart trendsetters and melodies, there is no reason why her stature can’t continue to grow on this side of the channel.