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IN THIS intimate, part-candlelit venue, there’s a subtle smell of incense, flickering shadows and the sense of a new spiritual awakening.
St Pancras Old Church is usually home to a congregation but tonight singer Aruba Red is in residence as she takes to the small stage to showcase songs from her latest EP Shadow Work.
Yet she starts with Who Am I from her back catalogue and immediately it is the voice — elemental, strong and haunting — that grabs the attention.
Backed by a five-strong band delivering alt-soul beats, she repeats the mantra: “Who am I but a lost soul, floating through this crazy life.” That sums up the next hour or so as she takes the audience on a tour of a dozen tracks, including key songs from Shadow Work.
Highlights include new track Release Me, which touches on her escape from an abusive relationship and, judging by the sentiments, it remains raw yet it is what she describes as a “soundtrack to some healing.”
Key track Blue, delivers a pared-down trip-hop groove and lets her voice soar, while Holy Waters, dedicated to her young son, again sees that voice, supported by the two backing singers, shine.
Aruba Red may be named after a fiery woman pirate but there’s a strong shade of sadness running through her work. The voice is what you take away, whether sitting atop dub-lite grooves, drum-driven trance-like chants or just soaring into the rafters.
She might come across as somewhat blue but it seems she’s accepted that sadness and acted on it to take her to a new more positive place.
There’s a new spirit of hope and redemption here but, then, this is a church after all.
Shadow Work is released on Travelling Child.
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