Local Music Loves: The Boswell Project

You know when you’re a teenager, and you see one of your school teachers out at the shops with their families/friends/each other (god forbid), and you have that feeling of the whole world being a bit off-kilter? Like the whole equilibrium of life is a bit outta whack? “WHAT? Teachers have lives?!” you (probably) exclaimed, as all your illusions of teacherly boringness start to crack. Well, imagine seeing your ex-music teachers performing in the Cabaret Festival, all sassy-like, in the same room that held your school formals. I know.

Luckily, I had the kind of music teachers that were just as sassy at school too, and who I knew could belt out a tune or fifty. Together, three of these jazz-loving lasses have formed an ace little group called The Boswell Project, which honours the largely unknown work of the pioneering Boswell Sisters. They’re backed up by a band of local jazz-loving lads too, including *fun fact alert* my old saxophone teacher^. The original Boswells were mates with Duke Ellington, inspired the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and The Andrews Sisters, and were incredibly talented multi-instrumentalists, yet they just aren’t given the credit they deserve these days. The Boswell Project aim to change this, to tell the amazing story of the soulful Boswell sisters and bring their glorious harmonies to audiences near and far.

Photo by Chloe Elizabeth, from The Boswell Project website

Photo by Chloe Elizabeth, from The Boswell Project website

I was lucky enough to be part of one of their audiences last night at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, as I was writing a review of the show for On Dit (you can read what I wrote here). The cheeky jokes shared amongst the women and their band, along with the enlightening insight they gave into the lives and times of ‘The Bozzies’ and their involvement in the New Orleans and New York jazz scenes, made for a super fun show. Short, sharp and shiny at just over an hour long, I was left hoping for a juuuust a lil more – a sign of a job well done by The Boswell Project team.

Unfortunately, there’s only one more show as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival for The Boswell Project, but if you keep an eye on their website or Facebook page, you might just be able to catch a future performance. The website also has little clips of the ladies doin’ their thang, if you want a taster. Also, they’ve just been asked to go to New Orleans to perform at an exhibition about the Boswell sisters, which is kind of a big deal. You can help them make it there by donating to their Pozible project, right over here. As I (am pretty sure I) mentioned over in my post about Elli Belle (who, coincidentally, I also met at high school), supporting local lovelies is lovely, so get behind The Boswell Project and help them tell this amazing story.

 

^Devastatingly, my hopes of being a pro sax player were dashed with the news that I was to become the not-so-proud wearer of a set of clunky orthodontic braces. However, I still adore that soulful instrument and maintain that most songs could be vastly improved with a good brass solo.

 

What I’m Listening To – Elli Belle

My music playlist at the moment consists of a lot of beautiful folksy-type singers: Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Thelma Plum, Gabrielle Aplin… I really appreciate the way all of these ladies combine thoughtful, bittersweet lyrics with simple melodies and their completely unique voices. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing an old school choir buddy of mine, Elli Cleary, take her own unique voice more public. Under the name Elli Belle, she posts her videos on her Youtube channel and Facebook page, where she also puts up other little updates for friends and fans, all the way from her tropical paradise in Darwin.

Elli has covered artists as diverse as Fever Ray, Beyonce, The Lumineers, and I distinctly remember her doing impressive renditions of jazz classics in our school days. However, it’s her original, ‘He Said’ that really stands out to me. It’s where she seems most comfortable; sharing from her heart a story of (in her own words) “how falling in love with someone makes you see things in your life that have always been there but that you never noticed”. This song, and indeed Elli’s style more generally, has all the features I mentioned appreciating above and this song is such a perfect expression of the “sweet sadness” (again, Elli’s own words) behind it. Her voice has certainly matured since our choir days but she’s kept that sweet fragility I remember 15-year old me could only ever wish of having. Funnily enough, she lists many of the artists I mentioned at the start of this post as her influences, and it shows.

Unlike so many artists who post their stuff on Youtube, Elli doesn’t over-polish her videos. She’s not manufactured. The fragility in her voice isn’t a put-on, cutesy, token gesture. Perhaps that’s the thing I appreciate most about the ladies I listen to: like Elli, they put themselves out there unapologetically but also humbly.

Follow the links throughout this post to see and hear more of Elli Belle, and don’t forget to hit ‘like’ on her Facebook page or subscribe to her Youtube channel while you’re there.

Lxx

What I’m Listening To (28 November)

Embrace – Goldroom
Perfect electropop-y boppiness

Asleep at the Wheel – Band of Skulls
Every now and then I like to pretend I’m a bit of a rock chick.

White Lies – Max Frost
I just really, really like this song. This style of music is the kind of thing I probably listen to most.

Gold Thread – Passenger feat. Matt Corby
I’m going to see Passenger on Sunday night so I’ve been obsessively listening to ‘All the Little Lights’ as well his previous albums, including his collaborative album from 2010, ‘Flight of the Crow’ which includes a stack of my fave Aussie artists from Katie Noonan to Matt Corby to Boy and Bear to Josh Pyke… the list goes on! I love it.

A World Alone – Lorde
Still not over her ‘Pure Heroine’ album.

I Was Here – Beyonce
My motivational anthem. Always brings a little tear to the eye.

What I’m Listening to (14th November)

As I’ve mentioned before over at The World is Her Book, music’s a pretty big part of my life so I thought it’d be nice to share a bit of that part of me with you, my small but ever so lovely flock of readers (yes, I did just make ‘flock’ your collective noun. It suits, don’t you think?)

Every now and then, I’ll post up a few of the songs I’ve got on high rotation. Perhaps you’ll flick through a few of them on Youtube/Rdio/Spotify/iTunes/whatever. I hope I’ll introduce you to something you wouldn’t normally listen to, as my taste in music is rather… let’s say varied. They might not be the newest/coolest picks, but they’ll always mean something to me so I hope you enjoy.

Here are my picks for this week. I have a little problem with making decisions, so I only managed to narrow it down to 8 songs… oops!

White Walls – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat Schoolboy Q & Hollis
I thought the lady-voice in this was Lykke Li at first. Disappointingly, it’s not. But it’s a rad song nonetheless so I’ve forgiven and almost forgotten.

Borrow My Heart – Taylor Henderson
I’m diggin’ this year’s X-Factor runner up’s single and I don’t even care if that makes me a sell-out. It’s not a guilty pleasure if you’re not guilty about it. So there.

U Should Know Better – Robyn feat. Snoop Dogg (/Lion/Monkey/Walrus/whatever animal we’re up to now)
I’m 98% sure I spotted Robyn on a horse and cart in Stockholm when I was there recently and so I’ve been getting back in to some of her stuff since returning home. My fave badass Swedish babe.

Team – Lorde
Lorde is basically who I wished I was when I had just turned 17 but alas, I was never so lyrically blessed – or aesthetically, for that matter… the girl rocks the curls like nobody’s business.

Arabella – The Arctic Monkeys
One of my best friends just saw The Arctic Monkeys (parents: they’re nothing like The Monkees, in case you were wondering) live in Paris and managed to get front row and I’m insanely jealous so I’ve been playing their latest album A LOT to console myself somewhat.

Play With Fire – Vance Joy
THE LYRICS. ALL OF THE RELEVANCE. Also, Vance (well, technically his name’s James Keogh) has recently been inducted into my list of top muso boy crushes. It’s all very new, but I’m hoping he’ll enjoy the company of the likes of Matt Corby, Mike Rosenberg, James Vincent McMorrow, Alex Turner…

Cavalier – James Vincent McMorrow
Speak of the devil! Cavalier’s another beautiful one from the beautiful McMorrow. You should really listen to it. Now. Please and thank you.

Strong – London Grammar
I’ve been solidly trying to think of adjectives to describe this song for about 20 minutes and all that comes to mind is ‘soaring’ and I think that sums it up really. Hannah Reid’s vocals are so gorgeously rich. ‘Hey Now’ is another of my faves by these guys.

So there you are, folks! Hope you enjoy delving into the musical part of my mind. Until next time,

xx