There are a lot of folky singer songwriters making music at present. It is hard, really, to know which ones are best. Joanna Newsom released her heavily acclaimed album a few weeks before this concert - and is now seen as one of the hippest people on the planet. Nina Nastasia is definitely hip - and her session (both in terms of playing songs, and drinking wine!!) at John Peel’s house was surely one of the finest things ever to appear on the much missed DJ’s brilliant radio show - but I wasn’t aware that she was in anyway a big name.

But, and I have to say I was surprised by this, Nastasia clearly has a substantial and diverse following. I doubt being given a large preview in one of those free newspapers they hand out to you on the way to the train station did her any harm at all. So - and after having already been treated to two acts before Nina took the stage - it was an excited and appreciative crowd that greeted her appearance at the Scala.

Nastasia’s songwriting is not as interesting as some. She tends to use fairly conventional patterns, and doesn’t offer the kind of surprises that, say, Laura Veirs delivers. On record, it is her beautiful and dynamic voice which makes her worth listening to, but that is even more so the case when you see her in person. It is a hypnotising voice, and it doesn’t seem to matter what she is singing with it. For an hour or two, I was simply drawn into her world - as it seemed were the rest of the hushed, attentive audience. If anything, it was almost a disappointment to hear one of more favoured songs because there wasn’t quite the same need to listen as intently as before.

But some of these songs are really beautiful, even if you‘ve heard something similar many times before. They have subtle melodies, and never seem to tire you out. And yet, it wasn’t the music that really mattered. It was Nina. Shy on stage whenever she wasn’t singing, the moment she begun to strum her guitar she became something else entirely. So unlike a typical indie star, she had a quiet dignity that was actually rather old fashioned. I was really sorry when this concert ended, and you can’t really hand out a higher compliment than that. A lovely evening.

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Commenting On: Scala, London, 29/11/2006 - Nina Nastasia

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