Back in March, I first came across Josephine Oniyama supporting the Hidden Cameras at The Deaf Institute in Manchester and was completely captivated by her stunning voice and beguiling songs. I knew nothing about her and from her angelic looks thought she was barely nineteen and a complete newcomer to the music arena.

Following a whizz round the tnternet I was amazed to find that she had already released an album at the start of the millenium and was in fact nearer thirty than twenty years old. But when you possess a voice that makes the likes of Amy Winehouse sound like a fake, none of this really matters.

Fast forward nearly seven months and Josephine is one of a whole ream of artists playing at the intimate Green Room, as part of a fringe gig for the In The City event that is held every October in Manchester. Even though it's free admission, I am amazed that there is room available, though a small selfish part of me is secretly glad because it won't be too long before Josephine is backed by live orchestras playing to thousands rather than being flanked by a couple of musicians (gently providing a little additional colour to her songs) in front of a few dozen as is the case now.

I'm an indie-kid at heart, raised on a local diet of heroes such as the Smiths, James and more recently At Swim Two Birds, so to be smitten with the talents of a black soul singer, speaks volumes for Josephine's talents.

Lyrically direct, but not in a crass way, her songs tell simple tales of love and break-up in it's various guises, with last single 'I Think It Was Love' being the perfect case in point. It's easy to see why it became a 6 music staple back in the Summer, but not quite so easy to figure out why it hasn't sent Josephine skywards at a rate that would make NASA proud.

'Down to the River" is another highlight , as Josephine chooses to omit from her set tried and tested tacks such as 'Salt Lake', 'Closer' and 'One Princess of Cheetham Hill' in favour of some newer tracks. Of course it works, but in truth she could be singing the shipping forecast and her voice could pull it off.

She finishes with a couple tracks from last year's 'In the Labyrinth' EP, the hypnotic 'Pepper Shaker' and a fragile 'Davey', which she performs solo. I don't know if her songs are autobiographical. Her beautiful brown eyes seem reluctant to give anything away, but whatever it is that drives Josephine to produce such gems, long may it continue.














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Commenting On: Green Room, Manchester, 16/10/2010 - Josephine Oniyama








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