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FOR A song dealing with inspiration’s failure to materialise, Fini Bearman’s The Idea doesn’t half blossom in performance. London-based Bearman is more of a singer-songwriter than a conventional jazz singer and as a performer she’s very much part of a five-piece band rather than a singer with a rhythm section, a point that comes across particularly when she uses rhythmical vocal lines to build the mood alongside finely judged guitar vamps from the subtly impressive Nick Costley-White.
Bearman’s own lyrics may often address timeless issues such as broken romances but she lives in a modern world where screensavers, for example, enter her muse unselfconsciously and with a warm, clear and expressive voice she brings a sense of realism and even practicality to her storytelling style.
She’s helped demonstrably in putting this across by tightly executed group arrangements, with a leaning towards art-rock in the bass lines and grooves, and superb individual playing from Matt Robinson on keyboards, who traded keen, incisive lines with Costley-White before Bearman brought Maybe Next Year to a strikingly effective voice-led conclusion.
I Know I Alone and Such a Fool illustrated Bearman’s ability to adapt poems – from the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and e. e. cummings respectively – into natural-sounding songs and her encore took the wise words of thirteenth century Sufi mystic Rumi further into the realm of Brazilian carnivals than they possibly have been before.
Much of this music comes from Bearman’s latest album, Burn the Boat, released last year, but Endless Clouds, written in the wake of the American presidential election result, shows that she’s already producing material of a similarly fine quality in readiness for the follow-up.