The Art of Letting Go
Rachel Collis @ The Promethean
2:00pm, Sun 17 Feb 2013
It’s a ridiculously hot day, and the trek out to visit Dad in hospital (a couple of bus trips with some awkward waits) has been draining – it’s that energy-sapping type of heat. So when I enter the Promethean (after a quick wander through the soulless Depot venue), I make a bee-line for the bar – it’s mojito time. The guys behind the bar are only too happy to go old-school with a twist on the beverage – hand-crushed mint and ice, with a contemporary twist of ginger ale to top up the drink. It’s an absolute delight, dry and refreshing, and I nurse it as I take my place in the small and scattered crowd.
Rachel Collis – who I’d inadvertently met the previous day when she’d been flyering in the Market – is delectably clad in reds and blacks, and she plays piano and sings tales of her life without further accompaniment. Not that any is needed: her voice is gorgeous, with clean notes covering a wide range, and she tends to favour the left side of the piano – which is just fine by me, with rumbling bass notes often providing a perfect backdrop for near-gutteral growls (or contrasting high wails).
The melodies and structures of her self-penned songs are pleasing, but the lyrical content caused me a few moments of consternation – mainly because Collis managed to ensnare me in a siren-like manner early on, and then proceeded to sing about how completely and utterly happy she was being married. And that is… well, a little unfair, really. And whilst the sentiments in her more contemplative songs are honest and heartfelt and quite lovely (Ever After and Pour Me a Glass of Wine spring to mind), the lyrical frameworks around her “edgier” songs feel a little shakier: I’m not completely convinced she’s confident singing about being unable to see her own pubes, or Pablo the Brazilian Waxer, and the Facebook Friend song feels forced.
Maybe that’s because of Collis’ upbringing – some of us have wrangled words and flitted with filth openly for years, whereas I’m guessing things may have been a little more refined in young Rachel’s formative home. But the occasional dubious lyrical structure isn’t enough to detract from the rest of the performance – and when Collis hunches over and really attacks those bass notes, it’s a thing of beauty… even if I’m still miffed about the whole being-married bait-and-switch ;)