Natalie Gelman – 2020

How has your 2021 been? We’re nearly a sixth of the way through the year and I guess that for most, there hasn’t been much of a difference from 2020? Here in the U.K. we’re still in lockdown, not able to see friends and family and not able to go to pubs, restaurants or non-essential shops. At least, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with an effective vaccine rollout and a plan that suggests we could be back having festivals in fields by the summer. We cling to that in the knowledge that we’ve had false dawns before.

“This year I was gunna get my shit together, Now I’m tryin’ stay alive hoping 21 is better.”

That’s a line sung in Natalie Gelman’s perky earworm of a pop song, 2020. In it, with humour, style and grace, Natalie chronicles some of the tough things that happened last year but looks forward to this with a slightly more positive spirit. I check in with Natalie and ask if 2021 is currently living up to expectation. 

It’s crazy to think how quickly this year has been going and that we’re already 2 months in.“, she says. “I’m starting to feel more hopeful this year than I did as 2020 ended. Personally, I feel like I hit a wall at the beginning of this year as the lockdowns got stricter and politics in the states turned really ugly when the capital was stormed.

Natalie tells me that she’s been writing a lot and has written her first original song on a kalimba. She’s also got plans on the horizon. 

This summer I’ll be releasing a full length album with an indie label. I’m working with them to explore how we can work with things as they are and safely do concerts that fall outside the norms. I love to play and miss touring so much so it feels good to figure out ways to make the connection at online, drive in or micro house concerts.

Natalie seems pretty sorted. She’s got a decent stash of loo roll anyway. Anybody who can write a fun rhyming couplet admonishing those people who’re unable to fathom how to properly wear a mask is OK with me. And the future song on the kalimba sounds like something to wait up for. 

As we hurtle towards another blank 2021 weekend, happy Friday all. 

Sonic Breakfast’s Gig Of The Year – 2020

In previous Sonic Breakfast ‘end of year’ posts, I’ve put together a ‘Top Ten’ of featured acts that have most excited me across that year. It somehow doesn’t feel right to do so in 2020 when all music to have given me a modicum of joy should be hailed and praised. 

I am going to pick out one live gig I went to and one song/band for top accolades though. Today, I’ll start with the live show before ending 2020 with the number one band. Drum roll please.

Venues and live gigs have been through the mill this year. It seems so long ago that I was crammed into enclosed spaces with others that it’s barely conceivable that such behaviour took place in 2020. Few could see the doom that was on the horizon when I crossed London in February to rock up at the Coronet Theatre in Notting Hill for the wonderfully intimate, sold out and packed ‘audience with Lail Arad and JF Robitaille show’.

Readers of Sonic Breakfast can refresh themselves with my review from that evening here. It begins with an inappropriate throwaway comment about Coronavirus and ends with the observation that Tuesday evenings don’t get better than this.

Lail and JF appear to have had a year of consolidation this year. I see occasional posts about new songs being written and sometimes they post videos of songs they have covered during lockdown. They recently uploaded a cover of a sad Christmas tune (Blue Christmas) that ably demonstrates (as if any reminder was needed) how their voices work together to create all sorts of spine-tingling magic.

There’s been arty pictures in the Financial Times and spurts of creative writing but mostly this has been a year in which Lail and JF desire to be out on the road touring. They clearly miss creating that connection that can really only come from playing your music in a live setting. And I miss being in the crowd to witness such delight.