Sydenham born Charlene Soraia is a talented musician who I 100% adore. Not only are the songs brilliant but her banter is extremely funny. The Golden Lion was the choice of venue for this gig. It was part of Sydenham Arts Festival and it was quite handy for Soraia as she mentioned that she lived only 8 minutes from this pub. When Charlene mentioned she was set to play a gig on the 5th July I had to do my research where it was. It was good for me that it was local to me. I did plan to go to The Regal Room to see Dan Shears as it was his EP launch, but I opted for this instead. It wasn’t a decision that was made easily but the way I saw it was when will I see Soraia next. The new tour in Autumn is ages away and there would be plenty of times to see Dan in the coming months. This all seated gig was extremely intimate (This was such a hot event people who hadn’t a ticket were turned away). In the end they managed to fit in 66 chairs.
It was 21.50pm when Charlene Soraia took to the floor. I was right at the front and she was in touching distance. “It’s quite surreal for me because usually I go to a gig and sound check then wait around and eat grapes, don’t know why I eat grapes and then wait to play. But tonight I did a weird little sound check and then went home. I was sat on my bed and I was like what do I do now. I spilt tea all over myself and I had to put on these pom pom shoes. That was bad my mum hasn’t cleared up the tea yet. It’s not everyday my mum comes to my gigs. Not because she doesn’t like me. I’m going to start doing some songs now. This one’s called Lemonade because I like Lemonade. I don’t any more actually I prefer Whisky but at the time I did like Lemonade. By the way never say that in Scotland. Never say you like Irish Whisky in Scotland or you’ll end up with a tray of Scotch Whiskies and then you won’t know where your hotel is” Charlene then mentioned to the intimate audience. Lemonade does not feature on debut album Moonchild but it was a song that captivated me from beginning to end. She sailed through this song effortlessly and it was soft at the same time. It’s lyrics were perfect and it basically depicts the story of a girl who likes this older boy at school “You’re old enough to be my father”. “So the next one’s called Bike. It’s not about bikes but it made sense to call it bike at the time” she then said before Bike. This smooth song was superbly sung and Charlene’s vocals were really strong. This song tells the story of a faltering relationship, which then leads to a years break which resulted in realising how much you actually love that person. “So this next one is called Postcards From iO. iO is one of the moons of Jupiter. I’ll be honest with you, I did think it was the one that was made of ice but apparently that’s Ganymede. That sounds like a disease . So it’s an easy mistake to make. Ganymede, iO, ice. Anyway, it’s not that one but I decided to still call it Postcards From iO” Soraia said before getting stuck into Postcards From iO. There was a folk vibe to this steady paced tune. The chorus was very up tempo and there were some high pitched noises. “So I’m going to do one called Rowing or Rowing. I played the little the Sydenhamy thingy in the green bit in the park on Sunday. That really didn’t make sense did it. But I tried, I really tried. It was a lovely day and it rained. But I don’t mind a bit of rain, it’s fine. I went home home and then I got dumped. So I’ve been in a little bubble of my own since Sunday night. Tonight this one’s called Rowing not Rowing. But it’s the same spelling so you can get away with it. Don’t go out with people you don’t like. General rule isn’t it. I’m only young, I’m still learning” Charlene said before Rowing (in the arguing sense). This tune started off at a slow pace then then it picked up when the song progressed. Rowing was a gentle song which I found to be rather infection. This number can mean two different things. For Rowing (as in the nautical form) the lyric which gives you this impression is its opening “Why don’t we go on a boat and float upstream”. While for Rowing (as in arguing) the lyric being “And if I could I would set fire to field to forget your face”. “Cool, so this is really nice actually. I haven’t played a gig in quite a while. So, I did 3 tours this year and then I went straight into recording my next album. This is brand new, this might go terribly wrong. Anyway if it does just ignore it” Soraia then said. I found Broken to be rather chilled out and the drums/ bass give it that extra edge. It’s lyrics were rather sleek and beautiful as well. Plus this song was upbeat at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is released as a single from the sophomore album. Charlene literally belted out this tune.“I kind of thought half way through that song like awwwwww I shouldn’t feel so bad about him dumping me. I kind of knew it was going to happen anyway”. “This is a baritone guitar. It’s like a normal guitar but 10x sexier. I saw this guitar when I was about 8 and I was like it’s the one. I’ve never felt that about a person yet but I have with a guitar. I bought it for myself and we’ve had a steady relationship now for about 4 years and it’s going well” and the song that followed was yet another brand new tune and this being Forgiven. I found this number to be rather laid back. This song had a beat and was delivered at a mid tempo pace. Its lyrics were sublime and the use of the baritone made it slightly edgier as the riffs resonated through you. “ This is my drum and bass number so you got to imagine my band are here. I have a little tiny band it’s just 3 of us but this song is usually much more fun with them. It’s called Animal, I suppose it’s about being an animal for someone or just being an animal. Feel free to start bouncing crazily if that’s how you feel. But it might put me off, but it’s fine” Charlene said before playing Animal. Like Forgiven this was played on her 6 string baritone guitar. Now this was a tremendous tune which had brilliant lyrics. Using the baritone gave the song that extra edge as the chords feel meatier compared to a normal guitar. “I don’t know whether to do a really trippy one. I feel like it, I think I will. This song’s called Wishing (You) Well and I was going to play it earlier but I forgot because I don’t write set lists. Not because I can’t write, I can write. I can use pens and paper. I like paper especially without lines on it. I find lines to restricted. Or smoke signals. Get rid of phones” Soraia told the audience. Wishing (You) Well originally featured on the Postcards From iO EP plus it featured on Moonchild. I really liked this song, It was played at a steady pace, the lyrics gelled together perfectly plus as there was a lot of reverb placed on the song the vocals were echoey. “It’s quite weird being playing in Sydenham. When I started playing when I was 5 like when I was 8 I started playing like open mic nights. But there weren’t really any in Sydenham. I used to go to this one in Beckenham for about 8 years. That’s were I sort of learnt properly how to play by watching other people” Charlene said before going onto talk about hotels. It was then onto Daffodils. “One of my friends reckons it’s actually about Crystal Palace Park. But it’s really not. There is a maze there which is nice. But it’s actually about Hampton Court” Soraia said before delving into this Daffodils. This number was superbly delivered and it was also gentle on the ear. “This is going to be my last one. I could do what I usually do in my encore but you cant have any children in here. I don’t want the parents to have, Oh there aren’t any. So I’ve been worrying about swearing all night. Oh f*ck that’s fine then. I was going to put my hair down but it’s really hot so I thought keep it up cos when you’ve got really long, thick hair it gets in the way. Anyway this is the track from the tea ad it’s called Wherever You Will Go. It was really embarrassing I was in Liverpool on the last night of tour and this women said to me right at the end. She was like Charlene, I won’t do the accent. Charlene what inspired you to write that song and I was like I didn’t write that one. That’s the only one I didn’t write and she was sat there like what? I felt like I had ruined entire existence in that one moment of me going nothing inspired me. What happened was I got asked by the people that own the recording studio where they were recording another girl with a different song. All the people of Twinings were like this isn’t working. I think they were trying to find someone for about 6 months and it was cos I knew someone in the studio. They were like why don’t you try this chic that I know and I turned up at 10 in the morning and was like have you got any Whisky it’s not going to work this early in the morning. So I had to drink a bit cos you know I’m self taught, I don’t even know how to warm up. Accidentally got a bit tipsy waiting for the piano tuner to turn up to tune the piano and then did a few takes of the song and went home basically. That was a bit weird and I went on tour that night. About 10 days later one of my friends was like you’ve got a song in the charts and I was like whatever and then the day after that I realised they weren’t lying. It just meant my album Moonchild could come out sooner, so that was nice” Charlene said ending with the formidable Wherever You Will Go. This beautiful ballad propelled Charlene into the mainstream market. Actually it peaked at #3 (it was also a #1 on the iTunes chart). I love this song and Soraia marked it with her own stamp of originality. This tune was delivered to perfection and was very different in tone compared to the other songs that had featured this evening. “My encore song basically I went out with this guy. Not the one I’ve just broken up with, the one before. Basically he cheated on me and he was like don’t leave me Charlene, I still love you. And I was like awww I’m going, bye. He was like she faked her cumface and I was like I don’t care does that undo what you done. Where’s the maths in cheating” Charlene said before launching into Does She Fake Her Cumface? It’s an anthem among many of her friends. This tune was a light hearted song which can easily make you burst into a fit of giggles. The lyrics were fantastic and Charlene mentioned if people knew the words sing along, if not learn them so you could sing along with her next time that song was performed.
Postcards From iO
Wishing (You) Well
Wherever You Will Go
Does She Fake Her Cumface?
OVERALL: This was a stunning set by the one and only Charlene Soraia. Everyone of her songs makes me smile while her banter makes me laugh. Each track was sheer perfection and I am glad I had a ticket to be a part of this intimate evening.
I must also mention Pheobe Osborne from Penniless Cove who opened up with a superb solo set on her keyboard.