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Live Review: Jessica Clemmons (Nottingham Arena)

Photo: Jeremy Williams

Being a support act is hard. You never know how the audience is going to recieve you. The impatience and excitement of waiting hours on end for their favourite band can be a tough enemy for an up and coming artist to battle. Thankfully, as the lights drop and Jessica Clemmons’ band make their way onto the stage, the eruption of cheers is enough to put all minds at ease. A cheeky little smile also crept up on my face as I had a good idea what an incredible talent people were about to witness.

The band open the set with an atmospheric introduction before breaking through the ambiance with the single ‘Beautiful’. It’s one of only a handful of songs taken from Clemmons’ album ‘Loving This Day’, another being the breathtaking rendition of ‘Ready To Fall. The latter marks the first time during the set that the tempo drops and thanks to it’s immediate chorus, it showcases Jessica’s vocal prowess at it’s best – enriched with pure emotion. Aware of her audience, Jessica’s choice of covers is also refreshingly apt. Taking on the 90s, an era when headline act Boyzone achieved their enviable success, she delivered a sublime performance of Cher’s ‘Believe’ and a country-edge was slipped in thanks to a little Shania Twain. Not a girl to put all her eggs in one basket, the younger crowd also appreciated a final few minutes dedicated to Ms. Katy Perry as Jessica’s pristine vocal shimmered over recent hit ‘Roar’.

The most convincing songs of Jessica’s career so far come from her upcoming EP ‘What If’. The instantly infectious ‘Single Tonight’ takes Texas County and merges it with accesible pop – think Taylor Swift’s earlier material with a powerhouse vocal. The real testament to that undeniable voice, however, is the way Jessica holds the crowd during her ballad section – the title track from the EP is encompassing and huge, it fills the arena beautifully and that is something not many emerging artists can boast. It feels warm and familiar whilst the brooding instrumental matches the sentiment pefectly. It’s a confident highlight from the set and promises even better things from the upcoming EP.

Something that never gets old for me, personally, is witnessing an artist for the first time. Actually being there and seeing for yourself that it isn’t the mechanics of a recording studio that gets that sound into the open, it’s the magic of a musician’s raw talent. Jessica Clemmons has slowly but surely made herself into the artist she is today and with her new venture into a country sound, I have high hopes for the ‘What If’ EP and the path her career is going to take. After all, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can never take the Texas out of the girl.

Photo:Jeremy Williams
Words: Simon McMurdo

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