CARO EMERALD, ABC1, GLASGOW
by Stuart Morrison
Caro Emerald’s album, Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor, evoked those big band jazz albums from the 1940s and 1950s, and as you would have read in Graeme Thomson’s story last week in The Herald, that was exactly what was intended.
So it was very pleasing to see her stage was set up as if Count Basie was about to appear.
All was not exactly what it seemed. Basie did not include a DJ in his line-up and with the band on stage and into their groove, Emerald was introduced by some inventive scratching from the man on the decks, giving the impression that Max Headroom was doing the honours. She launched into You Don’t Love Me with the confidence of an artist who has spent several years touring these songs and building a devoted fan base.
Her band was sensational, with a killer horn section. While the presence of a DJ might have been, at best, incongruous, the contrast between his atmospheric electronics and the retro musical style of the band gave some of these songs an almost surreal edge.
The most impressive instrument on display was that voice. Emerald is an excellent jazz singer and really belted out songs like Dr Wanna Do and set closer A Night like This. Back It Up, the song which made her name in the first place, was a celebration, Emerald switching effortlessly to a sort of 1950s hip-hop. But it was the first encore, an unused song from the album sessions, Close To Me, which was my pick of the night. Acoustic jazz, no DJ, her voice flowing over the audience like warm treacle, it was absolutely gorgeous.