Performance Review

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Written by Chantel Oosthuysen

Music has the ability to take you to places that you can’t always access in everyday life. This is why we need artists like Durban-based Shannon Hope. Her music is emotive, evocative, and delivered with such honesty that you can’t help believing every single word.

Hope is an exceptionally honest performer. She gets into those emotional places we often block out, with such ease and sincerity that you wonder if she doesn’t perhaps live there permanently. Watching her performance at the Corner Cafe in Durban the other night, her honesty was so obvious that it seemed at times as if she had stopped performing. There were moments where she forgot the audience, and became lost in the music itself; the effect was simply mesmerising.

In June this year she started her solo career with the debut album STILL, a collection of truthful and moving songs. Defining Hope’s genre is slippery; sometimes folk, sometimes pop, sometimes jazz it seems to crossover to something new. Hope calls it ‘pop art’, since her music is strongly lyric-based, a genre chosen to fit each song’s style rather than the other way around. Hope trained as a classical pianist so the music is technically tight. And while her lyrics are undoubtedly profound, Hope’s true strength is the emotional states she creates especially through her voice control. Her interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is clever, moving and simply the best I’ve ever heard.

Hope is no stranger to the music world, having been a member of the successful alternative rock band Ketamine when they were still around. But with her solo career, the sturm-und-drang rock persona has fallen away to show a more vulnerable side. She is not afraid to reveal herself and often just uses vocals and keyboards to do so. Her music is raw, uncompromising and penetrating.

From the melancholic “Blue Skies” to the playful and lovesick “Oh boy”, her album covers a wide range of human experiences honestly and intelligently. Hope is brave and real, and her outstanding performance took me places I hadn’t been in years. Don’t miss it.


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© Shannon Hope 2017