Gabrielle Aplin | The Hotel Cafe (Los Angeles, CA) | May 21, 2014 |
What do you do if you’re from the UK visiting Los Angeles and want to soak up some local culture? If you’re singer-songwriter, Gabrielle Aplin, you eat a lot of kale, sip on cucumber water and attempt to get a spray tan before heading to The Hotel Cafe to regale a packed room with your charming banter and gorgeous voice.
The name Gabrielle Aplin is fairly unknown in the US despite her certified gold album and extensive touring overseas. It’s not an easy feat to win over a crowd largely unfamiliar with your work but it was no challenge for the pony-tailed chanteuse who came to Los Angeles as part of her first US tour to support a stateside release of her English Rain EP. One song in and the room was rapt.
Leaving her band behind, Gabrielle took the stage with just her voice and guitar. She eased into the set, showcasing her lithe vocals on tunes like the breezy EP lead-off, “Panic Cord.” At the notion of a real piano on stage, she became downright giddy, comparing her luck to the Coldplay show she had witnessed earlier in the week. At the piano, Gabrielle played her “Christmastime hit,” a beautiful cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s haunting “Power of Love.” This was followed by a new song inspired by New York City and Patti Smith. The song was written with fellow Smith enthusiast Charlie Fink (Noah and The Whale) during a recent trip to NYC. She could have remained at the piano longer but felt badly for playing with her back to the crowd. She concluded her piano time with what she professed to be her favorite song, the intimate “Salvation.”
The songstress often gets compared to one of her musical heroes, Joni Mitchell. She has a similar voice that is both pretty and powerful as it floats up to the higher registers with ease. Enhancing the comparison, Gabrielle performed the Joni Mitchell classic, “Case of You.” She confidently conquered the notes as well as tone of the song, a task that would fell a lesser bard.
Throughout the evening, Gabrielle relayed both humor and emotional vulnerability, endearing herself to her listeners with both humble talent and an honesty reflected in stories and songs. Her set seemed to close with her more poppy single “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” but she wasn’t done yet. Instead, she brought the house down with the compelling “Home,” a song that gives her graceful voice room to rise and fall before building to a powerful and emotional ending. It was perfect. The stillness in the room gave way to a resounding applause. If the rest of her US tour was anything like her time on stage in Los Angeles, expect to hear much more from Gabrielle Aplin.