The Dublin Castle, Camden, Friday night. I arrive late but am relieved to find that a band is still sound-checking. They eventually clear the stage and allow Yazmyn Hendrix a 30-second line-check while the house lights dim, impatiently announcing the start of Yazmyn’s set while she’s still plugging in gear. Into first song ‘Birth’, and the ticket guys continue to shout unnecessarily to anyone coming through the door (for people charging the public to listen to music, they seem strangely oblivious to the subtle sounds emerging from the speakers directly behind them). Venue staff keep slamming the door behind the sound desk in the tiny venue as though they, too, have forgotten they’re meant to be curating a music experience for their customers. Before the song is done a bartender noisily raises the motorized cover to the venue bar, and a group who’ve come early for the next act gather and talk as though they were standing next to road works.

I manage to focus my ears on Yazmyn, who, amidst the din, creates an oasis. She stands alone on the crowded stage, singing breathily in a microphone, weaving a sonic spell that spreads by the middle of second song ‘Whole Heart’ to everyone in the room. I look around and find we’re ALL silently watching Yazmyn, who is so completely immersed in the moment that she’s barely performing – she doesn’t need to. She’s making her music in the now – carving something from nothing and making time stand still five minutes at a time.  She sings of love and yearning with sincerity and passion. She sets up onstinati with her voice and a shaker, laying down octave-ized bass lines, vocal percussion and full harmonies using a collection of pedals. She has a wonderful way of singing around the beat – lazily and groovily in time with herself. There’s a gorgeous organic feel to this process, as the technology allows Yazmyn to fill the listeners’ consciousness.

With her pedals and multiple mics, her faded black jeans and t-shirt bearing pictures of cassette tapes, Yazmyn’s tech-savvy, contemporary-retro cool recalls Imogen Heap, while her voice combines the sounds of Joss Stone, Sinead O’Connor and Alison Krauss. Her set is short, and in a breath she is into the last song with its cry for freedom, ‘I just wanna be me’. The rapt silence and the calls for ‘more’ tell me the audience wants this for Yazmyn too.

What a wonderful start to the weekend.

 

https://www.facebook.com/YazmynHendrixOfficial

https://soundcloud.com/yazmynhendrix/be-me

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