Last night saw the multi-faceted composer and singer, Charlotte Dos Santos perform her first ever headline show at Earth in Hackney. Her smoky, soulful track ‘Watching You’, which featured on Sofie’s SOS mixtape back in 2016, laid the foundations for the vocal love story, ‘Cleo’ which was later released on Norwegian label, Fresh Selects in mid 2017. The 10-track album sounds of everything but her Scandinavian homeland, as she was brought up on a diet of Arabic music, Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova. She credits time spent living in Spain in shaping the sincere story-telling behind Cleo, as a semester studying in the Mediterranean helped teach her how to put her feelings into her songs. With a sound comparable to that of fellow Neo-soul singer, Erykah Badu and a background so rich in artistic foundation, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the singer has turned so many heads in recent years; culminating in her first headline show at the packed out arts venue in Dalston.
The Brasilian-Norwegian jazz singer made her way to the front, with the regal stage presence of somebody with years of experience. She opened with a stripped back version of ‘Summer Is Icumen In’, connecting fans across the amphitheatre style venue with sweet soulful vocals, as a spotlight shone down on her swaying back and forth in all-white. She drew cheers from the crowd as she flowed into ‘Watching You’, each note laced with the bittersweet sensibility behind the track; her vocal range a lot stronger than you could expect from her often delicate delivery. She continued to hold the room while climbing up to fluffy falsettos before leading her live band into ‘Move On’. She marries elements of soul, R’n’B and Jazz with a rendition of ‘King Of Hearts’, and once again demonstrates her incredible vocal ability with key changes and unwritten tangents to close the track. During her penultimate track, a supercharged version of ‘Red Clay’, keys and drums shine through in tune to her sincere storytelling and make way for a soulful piano solo to close the evening, the room is silent as she takes the room on a seemingly impromptu journey, drawing huge applause from the audience as she closes the evening.
A couple of listens to ‘Cleo’ reveals the melancholic backbone to Dos Santos’ work, with each song a story waiting to be told; a necessity to be heard in a live setting. Hearing the tracks with the addition of a live band allowed for Dos Santos to be heard in a completely different light, with each song sounding like a first listen, whether she was performing album tracks or teasing new music in-between. The wide spectrum of influences heard in her music make for a sound that is different to characterise to one style, electro-soul sensibilities layered over what is ultimately an Afro-Latin jazz principle create a live show that captivates the audience from beginning to end.
Words by @rhimarilou