Laura Nahr / Laertis @ The Chapel, Camden, London NW1
22-year-old German singer-songwriter Laura Nahr is currently completing a master’s degree in Music Business at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP). She has wasted no time, already getting snapped up by Talentbanq whose weekly ‘pop-up venue’, The Chapel in Camden, provides the venue for tonight’s gig.
First up though, we have another singer-songwriter. Hailing from Greece but based in London and also studying at ICMP, Alexandros Laertis aka LAERTIS plays an organic acoustic set. His style is folky and dynamic, switching between quiet picking guitar and low register vocals, and punchy chord play with vocals rising up the octaves. His voice is powerful and rangey and, helped by a friendly personality, he woos the audience with a strong set of mainly originals.
Playing to an impressive and enthusiastic crowd, including a notable contingent of fellow ICMP students, Laura Nahr keeps things simple and organic with just voice and guitar. It is clear, from the outset, that she has the talent and confidence to make this format work. Mixing a delicate touch and combination of picked notes and strummed chords with a voice that is striking and distinct, Laura’s style offers a very contemporary take on a long lineage of singer-songwriters. She mainly sings in a soprano range with an expressiveness and subtle element of grit.
Between the songs, Laura is chatty and convivial, an instinctive storyteller which suits the autobiographical nature of most lyrics. Ox2 is so-called because it was conceived in Oxford and wasn’t assigned a title in time for its recording and release. Arguments On The Phone is self-explanatory and sets a sad break-up tale to an engaging melody and subtle use of extended and suspended chords. Lying That You Like Me follows a similar heartbeat theme. She also finds room for surprising covers with enjoyable versions of Andy Williams’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Abba’s Mama Mia. All in all, it’s a sufficiently varied set, and the time flies by. In terms of comparisons, it is easy to make crass ones but maybe some similarities to the likes of Mimi Webb, Lana Del Rey, Ashley Kutcher and others, but Laura doesn’t sound especially like any of these artists. Her sound is definitely her own.
The audience reaction underlines what an impressive performance she has given and, after the show, it looks like Laura is doing a roaring trade with her merch. The good news is you can catch her live at the opening night of my new (yet to be officially named) joint venture with The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham on Thursday 21st September. It continues a busy schedule of gigs and festivals for Laura. Trust me when I say she is one to watch.