The Tabernacle, a stylish and iconic Grade two listed building in the heart of Notting Hill, played host to the Once Upon a Time EP launch of rising British star in the making, Obenewa on February 27. A classically trained pianist and self taught guitarist; her music is an eclectic mix of acoustic soul, pop and rnb. As I wasn’t too familiar with her as an artist, this was the perfect opportunity for me to sample her music and to see if she would win me over.
After a short wait and little anticipation Obenewa appeared wearily on stage dressed in a duffel coat and rucksack into what appeared to be some kind of bedroom set up. My initial thoughts were ‘oh, what is this, a gig or drama piece’?
A little slow of me yes, but I finally realised that we were voyeurs in her bedroom looking into her past, sharing her musical journey. This was to be a very intimate performance; she was in a sense naked. There was no band; just this new relatively unknown and beautiful artist exposed for us all to see.
She opened the show with a very soft and melodic ‘My heart is from the heart’, already she sounded refreshingly different from what is out there at the moment. Although, at times I did hear remnants of Jill Scott, Teedra Moses, Lauryn Hill and yes, India Arie in her music.
There is no doubt that the girl can sing and is lyrically gifted. She is very engaging and draws you in with her vocals. Each one of her songs tells a story, and was delivered with enormous amounts of passion. It felt like the more she sang, the better we got to know her.
Highlights included the song ‘Flu’ which has a slight reggae vibe, ‘Obsessed’ which was one of the only up-tempo tracks for the night and her rendition of ‘Sky can you feel me’ by Raphael Saadiq. The only down side for me is that some of the songs started off beautifully but failed to keep you engaged until the very last note, particularly ‘Bed’ which to me is her weakest track.
Overall it was a fantastic gig, it wasn’t perfect and she still has a little way to go, but she’s not far off having that star quality!
I bought her EP Once Upon a Time and so should you. Go and get it now!
For more information visit: www.obenewa.com
Review by Vanessa Carty