It was an inhospitable start to the day. Grey and drizzling; the
drab English skies reaching into autumn. Then around midday the
sun broke through the clouds and with it came my first encounter
with New Look's debut album. The two events could well be connected.
This really is a lovely release. Singer Sarah Ruba and hubby Adam
Pavao have an innate understanding of the nature of "cool". In these
ten fine songs they deliver it in spades. A slick, chic, laid back
affair which would grace the sitting room and the dancefloor in equal
measure. The crisp beats and sassy melodies are as much an antidote
to the gathering gloom as we could possibly hope for at the tail end
of another year. The confidence and elan of the project is gratifying.
Ms Ruba has a lovely voice. Breathy, tender but secure in tone and timbre.
Her vocal performances seem effortless but this belies her sound musiclal
intelligence and way with words. She understands the meaning of economy
and good grace. Her gift is a welcome new visitor to the listening world.
Listen to her rapt rendition of 'The Ballad', a delicious invention full
of subtly managed emotion and pitch-perfect near-angelic harmonies.
Mr Pavao's spare rhythmic arrangement and loping keys have their roots in
eighties synth-pop but he wears the influences lightly and delivers a
refreshing new take on that much-plundered decade. An imaginative reinvention.
The bouncing bass of opening track 'Nap On The Bow' is a pure joy too!
The spirit of Sade and Swing Out Sister is not too far off in the wings.
The staccato groove of 'Relax Your Mind' twitches and stutters splendidly;
Ms Ruba hangs back on the beat and chirrups like nest full of baby birds!
'Numbers', too, leaves her plenty of space to weave her singular magic web.
There really isn't a miss-hit in the bunch but with the complex vocal
gyrations of 'So Real' and the darker scufflings of the mesmerising
'Drive You Home' we are left with little doubt that this talented duo are
onto a good thing. I was left feeling hungry for more. Scintillating stuff!