Florence Joelle’s Kiss Of Fire album review

Florence Joelle
‘Kiss Of Fire’
album review

Quick, call the fire brigade. Having caused a succession of sizable tremors on the London gig circuit, consistently confounding expectations and drawing an ever-wider audience, the superb Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire combo finally release their eponymous red-hot debut LP. Drawing upon classic whacked-out America roots music and injecting it with her own je ne sais quoi, Florence Joelle and her highly distinguished ensemble (featuring the notorious leftfield occultist filmmaker Arthur I Walked With A Surrealist Lager on spooked voodoo drums and Flaming Star stalwart Huck Whitney playing mercurial lead guitar) have fashioned a sound that is simultaneously timeless and yet entirely current. A neat trick if you can pull it off, and Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire have done it with acres of style to spare.

Whether on the inspired covers (early jazz/swing drummer Chick Webb’s Mary Jane suffused ‘When I Get Low I Get High’ and the benchmark 1950s rhythm & blues opus ‘Unchain My Heart’) or Joelle’s highly evocative original compositions (the opening propulsive statement of intent ”“ with Lager freely channelling Sandy Nelson and the zombie beat of Nick Knox – ”˜Hell Be Damned And Look Out (You May Only Live Once)’, Latin flavoured ‘Watermelon Gin’, the rockabilly empowered ”˜Never Thought I’d See The Day’, the licentious rhumba influenced ”˜Gypsy Boy’ and the yearning ‘Stardust Merchant’), Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire ignite passion, drama and dancing feet. Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire act as an intoxicating conduit between such vital contemporary figures such as Marc Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos, John Zorn, Chuck E. Weiss and Tom Waits with French chanson, vintage rock ‘n’ roll, loungecore and enduring jazz standards. In short, Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire is one hell of a heady brew that should be imbibed in one sitting.

Perhaps even more importantly, Joelle’s wonderfully fractured and totally unaffected emotive voice speaks of experience and of a life lived to the hilt. The highs, the lows, the agony, the ecstasy ”“ its all here, unadorned, unfettered and cut loose by a committed bon viveur. Florence Joelle is a very welcome antidote to the bland and airbrushed female vocals that currently infect popular music of every shade. As a girl growing up in Paris, Florence obviously collected and listened to early blues, doo-wop and 50s rock ”˜n’ roll. She has distilled these influences, together with the Parisian street music of bal musette and North African rai, into her own potent form of musical expression, powered by Lager’s bad juju percussion and Whitney’s angular guitar lines. If you dig Gemma Ray or Richard Hawley, you should definitely find Florence Joelle’s Kiss of Fire dramatic widescreen sounds highly combustible stuff. Vive la difference!

Florence Joelle’s Kiss Of Fire out 11th July 2011 on Zoltan Records


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