13 January 2009 (gig)
14 January 2009
One of the juicy biographical titbits that Ana Silvera throws to her audience tonight is that she is related to the late Carmen Silvera, the actress who played Edith in 'Allo 'Allo. Fortunately this showcase in London's Soho will be spared the tone-deaf warblings that terrorised the customers of René's Cafe.
Ana Silvera is a classically trained singer and pianist, progeny of the English National Opera and also a graduate in English Literature. Unsurprisingly, given this background, her songs aren't the usual boy-meets-girl chart fodder. Rather, she writes impeccably grandiose piano ballads that glint with self-conscious erudition, invoking such figures as Homer's Troilus or biblical temptress Salome.
How appealing you find this sort of thing probably depends on your reaction to hearing words like "cambric" and "brocade" used in popular song. Silvera is an undeniably gifted wordsmith but in her more ponderous moments she's dangerously reminiscent of that '90s purveyor of poetic pretentiousness Jewel Kilcher.
Once she loosens up and starts to have fun, however, it's clear that Silvera is a major talent in the offing. Her second set opens with a whirling dervish of a song, an acerbic swipe at an ex-boyfriend that puts her on a lyrical par with Thea Gilmore for sheer wit and venom. She also pulls off a swoon-inducing French-language cover of Jacques Brel's 'Ne Me Quitte Pas', and then confounds all expectations by finishing with a sublime reworking of Britney's "Womanizer".
This is Silvera's last gig before she flies out to New York to begin recording her debut album. If she manages to keep a rein on the classical allusions, it promises to be a treat.