Same Boat is available at:
12th March, 2016
Yorkshire, U.K./Colombia, South America
The E.P., From the Uproar, will be available from March 28th
Heaven Knows– 9.5
Same Boat– 9.6
I’ll Be Wrong Again– 9.5
Anhela (Bonus Track) – 9.5
Heaven Knows; Same Boat; Raven
IT is- on rare occasions- I get to review someone based in this…
country who takes influence from other cultures/nations. Being presented with Folk-Indie artist Vanessa Forero allows me to expand my horizons and discuss something quite exciting. Not too many musicians mix-up their music and invest in other sounds. Sure, you get acts that melt Folk and Indie: Those that tease Pop with Rock etc. How many musicians have you seen that are inspired by South American sounds? I have been proud of this blog and the fact I have reviewed artists from all around the world. In the years I have done this- the hundreds of reviews put online- I have assessed acts from four different continents- Australia, North America, Europe and Asia. Africa still alludes me- I shall have to rectify that- whilst South America seemed an impossibility. Although Vanessa Forero is based out of the U.K.: She has been deeply affected by her time in Colombia and the music/scenes/sights of the country. For that reason, I am counting this as a victory: Another continent I can tick off the list! In larger terms, it is fascinating finding a musician that takes direction from Latin music and incorporates it into a more ‘mainstream’ whole. A couple of times I have reviewed artists that fall under the ‘World Music’ banner: There are fewer shades of Folk and more attention on completely capturing the essence of South/Latin America. Forero is an artist who has fallen for Colombia- and the people there- and decided to take that passion and put it into her music. When her debut E.P. was released Forero even sung a song in Spanish (Anhela). I find too many musicians are not adventurous and taking too few risks. If you look at the mainstream, for example, there is a timidity and limitation that is hard to swallow. I am not saying ever act need to travel the globe to discover new sounds: It would be nice to hear music that involves other cultures and expands the palette somewhat. When Paul Simon visited South Africa- and was troubled by apartheid and the racial segregation of the time- he brought African elements into his ’80s masterpiece, Graceland. Damon Albarn spent a lot of time in Africa (Morocco especially) prior to recording Think Tank. Travelling- and recording- in Morocco and Mali: Albarn vibed from the exoticness and beauty of his surroundings. Blending these African themes with traditional Blur cores: You had an album that was a lot more vibrant, deep and itinerant than anyone could expect. I would love to see more mainstream acts being daring and adding more colour into their music. Forero is making a name for herself because of the original and bold style of music. Every track makes you smile but compels you to think deeply about things. Spanish/Latin sounds infuse inside dreamy vocals and evocative compositions. In a market with a lot of sound-alike Folk/Indie acts: It is a breath of fresh air discovering someone like Forero. The stunning Yorkshire singer is making plans for the rest of this year: Make sure you follow her and discover some music of the highest calibre. Before raising another point, let me introduce Vanessa Forero to you:
“British/Colombian singer-songwriter Vanessa Forero is set to release her self-produced EP on March 28th, a collection of 5 songs which came from a place best described by the EP title ‘From The Uproar’. Forero is a skilled multi-instrumentalist as well as a producer, composer, arranger and vocalist. After being selected in 2015 by Brit Award Singer-Songwriter Beth Orton to write and perform at her UK show, Forero decided to become her own artist and record her own songs in her distinctive Indie/Folk style with Latino influences.
For her debut EP, Forero recorded and played a lot of native Latin instruments herself, and even sings the evocative bonus track ‘Anhela’ in Spanish. Her sound is a reminder of her roots and has been greatly inspired by her time spent in Colombia. Forero was first introduced to a whole new music scene whilst filming National Geographic’s feature documentary ‘Woman Raised by Monkeys’, a film based on the bestselling book on her mother’s extraordinary life ‘The Girl With No Name’, a book that she co-wrote herself.
Vanessa Forero has recently revealed the underwater-themed video for her new single ‘Same Boat’. This new track is guaranteed to plant a smile across your face and have you hum in no time. So do not hesitate to embark on a journey across the choppy seas to get to know Vanessa’s unique world”.
It is near-on-impossible not to fall for Vanessa Forero. Impossibly beautiful- a cross between a young Kate Bush and Monica Bellucci- she has an infectiousness for music and a burning passion. Looking at videos on Facebook– specifically, where she takes us on a tour of her home studio- you can tell how much music means to this girl. From Colombia/South American instruments- only natural being half-Colombian- there are some seriously bitchin’ guitars and keys: Hefty recording equipment that looks like it should be the International Space Station. Forero has a keen and sharp wit and a hugely loveable personality: Someone who is incredibly warm and you would want to come and see live no questions asked- pretty much my idea of perfect. These ‘assets’ all translate into songs that leave deep impressions in the mind and leave you wanting a lot more. I know Forero is planning an E.P. at the moment- where she will sing in Spanish and open the listener’s eyes to a whole new world- and that will be one of the releases of 2016. She has a great team behind her- her P.R. team and representatives look after her very well- and there will be tour dates for sure (when the E.P. is unveiled). I hope Forero comes down to London- gives me a chance to see her up-close- as she would go down a storm here. From charming coffee joints to quirky bars: To the large-scale venues and major halls- she can fill them all. Having been recording music for just a short time- her debut single, Heaven Knows, was released a few months back- it is very much her time to shine. The debut E.P.- out in a couple of weeks- will be the vision of a strong woman who has had a fascinating upbringing and is ready to conquer.
Same Boat– Forero’s latest single- has already been warmly received. It is not hard to see why. From the opening seconds, you are drawn into a very personal song. The finger-picking guitars give the song immediacy and energy. Our heroine looks at boats moored and tied to the harbor. Looking at love- I would assume a bond with a particular sweetheart- you get the impression of a frustrating love that has been largely immobile. Perhaps I am overreaching yet I find Forero needing something more exciting. The two have “fired up” once more: They are still tied to the dock and not going anywhere. If he (the sweetheart) leaves in time then our heroine will always remember him. Even from the earliest moment, you start to imagine what the song is trying to say. To get a better impression of Same Boat it is wise you check the video out. It shows Forero sat with her guitar: Surrounded by lights and decked in bohemian clothing; it gives the song extra charm and warmth. Same Boat is an appropriate lead-off track from the E.P. as it is the most accessible and direct number. Forero showcases her full vocal/musical range across the E.P.: Here, she is at her most concentrated and focused. Every note sparkles and runs with a gleeful, child-like smile. Few female musicians are noted for their instrumental skills- a sad reflection on the time- and it would be criminal to overlook Forero’s talents.
As a multi-instrumentalist, she is exceptional and hugely authoritative. When it comes to the guitar, there seems to be a real simpatico and bond. Forero lets her soul and heart flow through the strings. The notes and strings are not just picked to elicit sound and fill gaps. Every thought and utterance sound essential and utterly beguiling. Same Boat is a song that bursts with alacrity but has a deep conscience that is uncovered. Our heroine asks whether she’d be “there in your arms” seven years down the line. Maybe the sweethearts have been going through the motions- a seasickness that has stifled progress- and things were never meant to last. I am not sure whether the duo has broken up or has spent time apart. There is a parting of the waves- pardon the seafaring pun- and two people with two different minds. They/our heroine experience themselves in the same boat but on “a different tide”. Situations and obstacles come- to test the love and durability- but nothing ever seems to change. Perhaps I am running away with my own confidence- thinking I have the song nailed- but such is the strength of Same Boat. I wonder whether Forero has found true happiness or is contended to keep sailing- damn it! – and find a new horizon. Intoxicated and aching- the smiles never wane- looking at the video: The young musician smiles and dances with mermaids (yes sir!). Our heroine employs wordless vocals to add a sense of dreaminess and contemplation into the balance. Most artists (when it comes to wordless vocals) lazily toss them about- Coldplay have spent their career doing that- yet Forero does so in search of beauty and narrative punctuation. Forero is in her boat and wonders whether there is “one road to follow”. There is a lingering sense of doubt and dissatisfaction. Among the questioning and self-examination is a determination to move and find personal happiness. Our heroine fights off hazards and sea creatures- the video’s charm and plot always leave you smiling like a lunatic- and you get sucked into the iridescent nature of the song.
There are more complicated and layered songs within From the Uproar: None that are as nuanced and populist as this. Vanessa Forero is a musician that could easily fit into the mainstream. Her music can find its way across mainstream and underground stations- from Radio 2 to Absolute Radio– and ingrains itself in the brain. It is impossible to forget and overlook the sheer magic, joy and potency of the song. Even after the first listen, you want to jump back in and sing along. The production and mixing are exceptional which allows the vocal to rule up-top. The composition does not get buried: Both elements push one another and create a sense of drive, balance and harmony. Forero is essentially a one-woman band and you can tell how much of her time and energy has gone into (Same Boat). Maybe our heroine has had her heart broken- she might be in a happy relationship now- but always approaches matters with insight, intelligence and maturity. There is never a tactical move to gain sympathy- like a lot of ingénue songwriters do- and that is to be commended. Sounding completely original yet oddly familiar- little hints of Kate Bush and Laura Marling; a bit of Beth Orton perhaps- that makes the music addictive and utterly essential. I am in no danger of hyperbole when I say Vanessa Forero will have a long career ahead of her. Given her past/childhood and musical abilities: Who could possibly resist such a fascinating woman? If you have not heard Forero then make sure you start now: Same Boat is the place to start and gives you an insight into what From the Uproar will put forward. Having heard the entire E.P., I can say this: That consistency and talent runs throughout every single song. In a music scene where there are disposable artists and no-hit wonders: It is wonderful finding a musician who promises longevity and immense promise.
You really couldn’t get a more natural musician than Vanessa Forero. She was foreign to me up until a few days ago- I was contacted by Charlotte Gomes at Project Light Agency– and have been lucky enough to get my hands on Forero’s E.P. (a little about it, below). The young heroine grew up in Bradford but her mother was abandoned in a Colombian jungle as a child- rescued by monkeys in the end! No, you can really not make it up (it certainly beats tales of days out by the seaside with parents in Whitstable!). Given the fearful and fraught childhood- where the young Forero bonded with her piano- music was the outlet for her. Most of us do not realise how privileged and lucky we are: My heart goes out to Forero and the things she had to go through (her mum too!). The piano was/is a way for Forero to let her voice out and channel her emotions/pains into something constructive and hopeful. Although she uses the word ‘journey’- a small chink in golden armour; that word is my least favourite for its over-use- it is probably an apt verb (or adjective, depending on your mindset) to describe the last few years. From the Colombian jungle to the streets of Bradford: The amazing Vanessa Forero has been in the shadows but is heading into the light. Forero began composing at the age of nine, but it was an invitation from Beth Orton- The Brit-winning U.K. legend- that compelled our heroine to pursue her goals. Forero was invited to write and perform at her (Orton’s) show: An opportunity for a larger audience to discover a special talent. A published author- The Girl With No Name was a book passaging her mother’s upbringing- with immense passion and dedication: No other musician deserves as much acclaim and support as Vanessa Forero. Before concluding- with a mini-review of her debut E.P. – it is worth re-focusing on musical diversity and expanding horizons.
Forero is someone who wants to encourage more women to pick up drumsticks: Get into the studio and start doing- not my words- “boys’ jobs”. Traditionally, studio-based roles and drumming- what we would associate with the lads- has been dominated by men. I know very few women who are drummers- Collette Williams of Rews is one of the few- and fewer who spend their time overseeing studio recordings. Given the background (Vanessa has had) it is no surprise she wants others to succeed and push themselves. Forero is embarking on her career and going about it in the right way. Her official website is clear, concise and beautifully designed. A one-stop portal that puts everything in order- you’d be stunned to see how many musicians do not have an official website- it has clear information and photos; music links and videos. On Facebook, Forero keeps in touch with her fans- responding to comments and messages- and ensures her fans are kept abreast of developments. Amassing an impressive amount of followers- they are in their thousands as we speak- in such a short time; Forero has won the hearts of many. The fact she has such an original approach to music- bringing South American adage into things- is a testament to a very rare and special musician. There are not many musicians that take the time to bridge horizons and offer the music world something new. I love Indie and Folk artists but find the genres suffer rigidity and predictability. The usual guitar-wielding, soft-voiced acts more-or-less do the same thing. Unless there is an epic voice- something that takes the breath- among them, I am left somewhat cold. Vanessa Forero has a voice that buckles the knees but many other dimensions. The instrumentations and compositions are magical and entrancing: Your mind is transported somewhere stunning and special. Her tales mix personal history and something more every day. I cannot wait to see where this year takes this tremendous musician. I know a lot of Yorkshire musicians and ALWAYS say the same thing (when reviewing): This county does things very differently. Diversity, genre-fusing and originality is synonymous with Yorkshire: There is no other county that contains so many unique and wondrous artists. Forero is in great company and will have a wonderful, if busy, future. A stunning woman with a heart-melting personality: Backed by music that leaves you agog.
I was hugely excited to investigate Forero’s debut E.P., From the Uproar. The E.P.’s title is an appropriate moniker that gives you an insight into the stories held within.
Heaven Knows is the E.P.’s opener and gets the listener invested instantly. The gentle and resplendent guitar playing reminds me of Nick Drake’s finest work. The strings dive and swim in the ocean: It is a spine-tingling and tender passage that causes the soul to smile. When our heroine comes to the microphone; her words look at posing questions and looking for safety. “Where do we go from here?” is the first conundrum, and one that is delivered with sensitivity and heightened beauty. Maybe (the question) is about her childhood- feeling lost and seeking something secure- or the depths of a relationship- where she feels unloved and unmotivated. Our heroine is hungry and is looking out for hope: You can tell there is desperation to change life and some scrap of happiness. Augmenting her vocals- you get multi-tracked bursts to emphasise the mood- there sits intensity and beauty in equal measures. “Would this bleeding…”- as it is laid out there- “bring you closer?” You get lost in the transcendence of the vocal and the sweetness of the tones. Assessing some rather harsh times- the struggles and inequities of love- your heart goes out to her in every moment. Wordlessness- chirped and echoed vocals- tumble with racing strings and get the listener curious and excited. With nary a warning, the song explodes into life and the vocal gets hotter and heavier. My impressions changed as lines like “You own your soul” are introduced: It seems like the song is directed at a larger audience, perhaps. The themes of loneliness, uncertainty and changing ‘fate’ are slung in with a furious passion. A stunning and hugely memorable song kicks off From the Uproar with immense promise.
I’ll Be Wrong Again boasts another noble and chocolate-smooth vocal that shows just what a proposition Forero is. “What have you learnt about love?” is a question that burns on our heroine’s lips. Maybe it is a query directed at herself- or perhaps a friend or someone anonymous- but is a new approach to songwriting. Usually, you get songwriters being direct and un-nuanced. Forero turns the tables and compels the mind to speculate and imagine. It is clear Forero has had her heart broken- she has made an unwise decision or two- but is hopeful things can turn a corner. As she says herself, she will be wrong again and go through a familiar feeling. The city has life and promise in her- even though our heroine has been hurt- and it makes me wonder whether love is being described. Maybe Forero is looking for a place to call home- uprooted and a migrant in her younger years- and is looking for somewhere she can bed-down and ensconce herself in. In a wider sense- and more akin to my intuition- is a heart looking for a parabond and equal. You get impressions of Folk legends when Forero lets her voice rise and climb. Elements of Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling combine in a gorgeous and sense-lifting delivery. Light strings and percussions blend to give the song a drive and incessant kick. I am not sure which instruments went into the mix- South American elements included- but would be fascinated to know. Love will ache and rule with fear: In the midst of the aging and struggle, it will always be there and remain true. There is a wisdom and maturity to the words: Intelligent and deep so that every listener will have their own interpretation. One of the E.P.’s most impressive and direct numbers- certainly in the ‘top two’ songs- it compels repeated listens and scrutiny.
Raven begins with trickling strings and aching tones. Your mind is put into the jungle- into the depths of South America- and it is the first real exploration of Colombian/South American influences. From the clattering and pulsating percussion- to the waterfall strings that cascade- there is spirituality to be found. There are accents and suggestions of modern Folk acts- Laura Marling comes back in- with a little air of Kate Bush. That boiling pot of accessible, quirky and transcendent reminds me of Bush at her most arresting and immediate. Raven has its caution and troubles at its beating heart. Maybe looking at a particular lover- someone who is not watching where they are going- our heroine is looking for control and equal footing. After the early notes- where you are transplanted somewhere paradise- something more spiked and ominous threatens to replace the mood. Given the song’s title, it is perhaps not a shock to find something jagged and afraid come into the song. A heartfelt and soulful performance ensures every word and line hits the mark. Bringing wordless gallops together- the song has such vibrancy and tribal energy- the track expands and hurries towards the closing moments. Forero puts in one of her most intense and impressive vocal performances across the E.P. The composition brings together all her other elements and talents into an explosive song. Distorted and stumbling strings- including a jumpy electronic moment- takes you by surprise and comes out of the blue. The final moments return to the ideals of the introduction: Vocal snatches and sounds of the South America; delicate strings and a romantic lushness.
Anhela brings the E.P. to a close (technically it’s a bonus track) and does not suffer language barrier issues. Whilst the song is sung in Spanish, its beauty and sublime passion transcends borders and stands on its own merits. When the E.P. gets an official launch, I hope some lyrics are included: It would be fascinating to see what the song is about. Anhelo means ‘yearns’ in English: One would assume the song regards a lusted-for love perhaps? Gorgeous keys and one of the most tender and unforgettable compositions you will hear: You need to listen to the track and take it all it has to offer. You get so many details and heart-stopping moments: Such beauty and divinity runs through the E.P. and is a hallmark of Vanessa Forero. The four-track (five if you include the bonus track) shows such confidence and conviction from someone so young. This is Forero’s first exploit into music- on her own terms anyway- and most artists would come in unsure and slight. What From the Uproar shows is bravery, passion; conviction and a sense of control: Every track explores, explodes and exploits: A rapture of soul-bearing wonder and personal revelation. Forero puts her heart on the line but never asks for pity. She is an immense talent who is unafraid to let vulnerability sit alongside overt strength and motivation. South American strands sit with more traditional Folk elements in an E.P. that will reach a wide audience. If you like Folk and Indie as it is- in the mainstream and dependable- you will find much treasure here. If you prefer World elements and something more exotic in music: Vanessa Forero has created an E.P. for you. From the Uproar is an E.P. that belongs to everyone but emanates from a unique heart. One of the most accomplished and impressive releases I have heard in 2016: I cannot recommend Vanessa Forero enough. I only hope my words have done her justice. If not, I can only advise this: Snap the E.P. up upon its release…
AND arrive at your own conclusions.
Follow Vanessa Forero