Occasionally you hear a voice that stops you in your tracks and even more occasionally you hear a voice that you can’t really find a comparison to. Unique voices are rare so when I first heard the rich, warm, striking, voice of Collette Cooper, I knew I just had to find out more – we met for a chat a few years ago and when I heard her latest release, I knew I wanted it to feature on Angry Baby.
Lost is Cooper’s new album, full of big jazz and blues sounds that show off her big, throaty voice to perfection. From the opening note of ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away‘ you know you’re in for a rollercoaster ride and that’s what Lost delivers; from the beginning to the end it demands your full attention. Superficially, the music strikes a jaunty chord – you feel like you’re in a 1930’s jazz club watching a spellbinding performance. However, juxtaposed against that jaunty sound are darker emotions that reflect the difficult feelings and difficult situations of real life. Collette certainly knows how to tell a story and although her voice in itself doesn’t remind me of anyone else, her phrasing and storytelling will inevitably lead to comparisons to Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Nina Simone amongst others, all of whom were superb proponents of the use of drama when singing.
‘Perfect Girl‘ is one of my favourite tracks on the album but I could also have chosen any of the half dozen tracks. ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away‘ is wonderful whilst ‘Lost Soul’ perfectly encapsulates the despair of finding yourself at the bottom of the heap. It seems that all Cooper’s life experiences come together in that one song and as I said earlier, stops you in your tracks and makes you listen.
Colette’s interpretation of ‘I Put A Spell On You‘ is a masterclass in covering a well known song. The emotions are lived and breathed through the vocals, from raw pain to frail fragility in one phrase. This is not background music – it transfixes you in way that feels as if you’re hearing the song for the first time.
I alluded earlier to the darker emotions and situations that Lost conveys and Cooper has had more than her fair share of challenges along the way. Her father had passed away and difficulties after that led to Cooper ending up in a hostel in Camden where she began to write. She says of this period, “you write what you know, expressing the emotions I was going through at the time…but it wasn’t all doom and gloom, you have to see the funny side of things”. These experiences and the song writing that followed, ultimately led to the decision to donate all proceeds of Lost to music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. Speaking about the charity, Collette says
“I’m proud to be an ambassador for NR and all the great work that they do and feel music therapy is so important in helping not only for those with a life-limiting disability but in today’s uncertain times, it’s a saviour for a lot of people.”
Hannah Sheedy, Director of Fundraising at Nordoff Robbins says
“…we believe that music brings us closer together. It can be made and enjoyed by anyone, and at times like this, the connectivity that music brings is more important than ever. We’re delighted to have the support of Collette who will be donating all proceeds from her wonderful album Lost to help fund our music therapy. As we do not receive any direct government funding, Collette’s kindness will enable the charity to continue to enrich people’s lives with music therapy, supporting some of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our communities who have been significantly affected by this crisis.”
Collette’s advice for aspiring musicians is from the heart:
“I think the most important thing as an artist is to be yourself! Don’t emulate others. Draw some influence and take inspiration by all means but stay true to yourself. Just follow your own heartbeat and be kind to others on your exciting journey. And remember, the word ‘fail’ only exists in the mind if you allow it to live there rent free! Keep going! You’re doing great!
Lost was released on 4 December 2020 on Thelonious Punk Records. Get your copy here.
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