Published: 17/04/2014 16:06 - Updated: 18/04/2014 13:30

REVIEW: Dorec-a-belle single launch

Dorec-a-belle
Dorec-a-belle

 

Dorec-a-belle single launch

Mad Hatters, Inverness

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IT’S been quite a year for Dorec-a-belle – and the warmth of the crowd at their single launch gig at Mad Hatters last week proved a growing, loyal following is just another box ticked.

The last 12 months has seen them beat off other Scottish bands in a national newspaper competition to win a prestigious slot at last year’s Wickerman Festival, they were invited to play the Hogmanay show at the Northern Meeting Park and now they have an appearance at the sellout Belladrum Festival to look forward to in August.

So maybe it’s no wonder that we’re still waiting for an album that is now promised for later this summer.

But it was a great idea to appease fans by releasing single Listen – one of the highspots of the group’s live set – which also includes guests Derek Urquhart on drums and Robin Abbot on double bass.

As they featured on the single, it made perfect sense to invite them along to join the band for the gig, where the rhythm section added an anchor and a burnished depth that gave the Dorec sound a rich glow.

The eclectic blend of instruments from the female foursome is one of the big selling points of a band that can mix up vocals, saxophone, cello, accordion, keyboards and guitar to keep arrangements sparklingly fresh and sidesteps a predictable run of songs on the setlist.

It must be tough work for a soundman to get all the instruments balanced – initially we couldn’t hear Mary Ann Frew’s lead vocal above the rest of the band, though it was quickly sorted out.

In first song Don’t Give Up there were six voices harmonising and with Mary Ann Frew taking the lead in most of the numbers, it was also nice to get the contrasting lead vocals of Liza Mulholland on a few songs. At other times Mary Ann teamed up with sax player Bev Fraser to sing, as with Donovan cover Colours.

Before Take Your Time, Bev gently teased Robin about a first – as he used plucking for a bow on the strings of his double bass. But it added another chocolatey layer to the sound in one of the band’s most effective songs – “about being impulsive”, Mary Ann had confessed.

In a 90-minute set which combined slow ballads and uptempo danceable beats that still couldn’t shift a listening crowd – despite Mary Ann encouraging them – there were few lulls.

Antonia – dedicated to cellist Imke Henderson’s baby – is a gentle crowd favourite, but might do with one of Dorec-a-belle’s signature arrangement makeovers to add more colour.

Bev revealed they had tried to create a psychedelic feel in a new intro to one song – and it worked brilliantly. Surfing different genres – from jazzy to funky to folk, most typically – is a key strength, as is a core of songs that pack an emotional punch.

Single Listen – hypnotic at the best of times – made a worthy finisher to a gig that marked another milestone for the ever-evolving Dorec-a-belle.                                                                                 Margaret Chrystall

For details on downloading the single, go to www.dorec-a-belle.com

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