Leonard Cohen didn’t start his music career until the age of 33, with the now-classic ‘Songs Of Leonard Cohen’ in 1967. Like her inspiration, Raquel Kiaraa has waited until the same age to release her first collection of songs, but whereas Cohen was already an author, published poet, and a guitarist from childhood, Kiaraa took the step of learning piano, taking vocal lessons, and essentially going from a standing start to selling out 250-seat theatres in the space of just a few short months.
All that makes new single ‘Dear Jesus’ all the more impressive, Kiaraa’s delicate piano playing and potent rise-and-fall vocal giving – if one didn’t know the story – the impression of a musician with a far longer pedigree and experience of the industry. ‘Dear Jesus’ is polished, accomplished, sounding less like a debut-album piece and more like something delivered by a well-established artist. While there’s no doubt those vocal lessons paid off – in spades – Kiaraa’s voice is obviously also a natural talent; she has a feel for dynamics and performance that works perfectly with the relaxed, acoustic nature of the track, gentle arpeggiated piano chords sitting delicately behind her vocal, which sounds confident and composed and, at times, just the right side of emotional and edge-of-breaking.
It’s a beautiful performance, the lyrics poetic and storytelling, and well put-together, and – if this is truly Kiaraa’s first forays into singer-songwriting and not some elaborately-constructed Seasick Steve back-story – auger even better as she matures and develops with time and experience.
Review by Alex Holmes