Thursday, 20 August 2009

Kadesha, Samantha Heard, Chris Sheenan and Phil Baxter

It was a night of simple pleasures last time at PAS, with a pretty bare-bones set-up for the most part - by which I mean there weren't any keyboards to lug around or djembes to think about, or, indeed, any mutant polar bear attacks to fend off.  If you haven't seen any mutant polar bears in West London, that's because they have mutated to look exactly like a cat.  It's a strange mutation, I grant you, but one that can clearly be seen if you offer up a Fox's Glacier Mint to what you believe is a cat.  If it truly is a cat, it will continue ignoring you.  If not, it will approach, sniff the mint, and promptly go cross-eyed with the sheer effort of thought.  The half-forgotten memories of those sparkling white wastelands - which, presumably, smell of mint - will send a whole cascade of rushing emotions through the poor little thing's brain, who also has to consider whether to attack your hand now or later - after you've fed it - which blade of grass to chew next, where that damned critter made of pure light that only appears on walls went, how it can annoy you even more than it did yesterday, which ridiculously uncomfortable place to sleep will it try next, whose garden to defecate on this time... and so on.  The brain overheats, which is very easy for a polar bear, considering that it is, unlike a bi-polar bear, ill-equipped to deal with conflicting emotions.  Plus, of course, it's used to colder temperatures.


Newcomer and young 'un Kadesha came with guitarist Len to play her poppy, R&B-inspired acoustic rock.  How old is Kadesha, you ask?  She's 16.  Six...teen...  Huh, you say.  Yeah.  I don't know about you, but I was busy being a tit when I was 16, so it amazes me that someone that young can actually do something good with their time.  The fact is, she does.  Her songs are well-written and brilliantly sung, with a good mix of genres to keep it vibrant and interesting.

Samantha Heard was the lead part of the second duo of the night.  Dual guitars and rocking riffs showed a promise for her usual band setup, and second guitarist Sam - a male Sam, not Samantha - also showed glimpses of excellence.  Samantha's songs are, like I said, a bit rocky, but always with a pop edge, a little like Sheryl Crow, for example, and, while in an acoustic setting they didn't show their full potential, still revealed a whole pantheon of good tunes, superbly written and played.

Chris Sheenan's mostly slow songs are deep and full of feeling, though, I should add hastily, not so much that it becomes dull or bland - nowhere near.  There's a certain beauty in there, an indefatigable impression of resonance with your own thoughts.  Perhaps he's helped by his onstage presence, throwing out comedic banter between tunes, which lightens the mood before plunging you back into introspection and wonder.

Phil Baxter's sweet love songs are, as he says, "Pop jazz funk in an acoustic setting."  That's a pretty good estimation, really, although if you could fit "soul" in there somewhere it would be spot on.  Some of Phil's stuff is like the slower parts of Motown artists' repertoire in terms of feel and songwriting ability, which, I shouldn't have to explain, is a very high accolade indeed.  There's also the occasional Latin influence, like in "What's A Dance Between Friends", but the funk rock element is one that really shows through, the one which gives Phil's music power, rhythm and, most importantly, awesomeness.

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