Sophie Hunger at the Jazz Cafe
Bern-born Sophie Hunger treated fans at Camden’s Jazz Café to a showcase of her newly released album, The Danger of Light, as part of an extensive European tour. A talented and versatile songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Sophie grew up in Switzerland, Germany and Britain, and there’s certainly a pan-European influence to her sound which more comfortably integrates jazz with folk, rock and trip-hop than British artists tend to.
Sophie’s wide-ranging interests and talents led to a bit of an uneven set which was not quite sure what it wanted to be, pitching from jazz freak-out to quiet folk guitar. The quiet songs suited her better and held the crowd spellbound, such as the pensive number Take a Turn which she softly picked on a nylon-stringed electro-acoustic guitar, followed by a beautiful, compelling rendition of A Protest Song from her 2008 album Monday’s Ghost which was vocally very lovely and featured a gorgeous muted trumpet accompaniment.
The heavier jazz numbers were well crafted, had experimental edginess and were brilliantly executed (especially by the superb Alexis Anerilles on piano, mini moog and trumpet, who we could have watched all night), but her gentle vocal style perhaps doesn’t suit these belter numbers as well.
A whole host of influences were very clear to be heard; close your eyes and you could be at a Portishead gig. There’s also some Radiohead in there; Le Vent Nous Portera (Two Gentlemen, 2010) put us in mind of The Reckoner. This is a really lovely song in French which starts quietly but builds into something more dramatic, featuring another completely delicious trumpet part and a singing cello line in the live version, and again is one of the numbers which suits Sophie’s voice best with its meandering, earnest melody.
The concert was interesting and engaging while perhaps not being electrifying, with the most memorable number coming at the end of the main set: a very quiet four-part harmony song accompanied simply by a drum beat – unusual and mesmerising, and quite a feat to pull off in the noise of the Jazz Café.
For more information about Sophie Hunger’s European tour, click here.
Check out the track Can You See Me from Danger of Light here