Dammit, those Brits can sing! VV Brown gave a second wind to British soul singing last night as she performed songs from her new album, Lollipops And Politics, to a packed house at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory. The powerhouse performer began her one-hour show promptly at 10 p.m. wearing a black fur vest, an oddly designed pleated black dress accompanied by black tights with no shoes. She was getting ready to rock the stage and didn’t need the distractions. Her bangs hung low to her eyelids, giving her an uncanny resemblance to MC Nicki Minaj; perhaps VV is Nicki’s inspiration when she transforms into her British alter ego.
Nevertheless, last night the spotlight was on VV. She had her band with her; two guitarists, a keyboardist, drummer and one backup singer who doubled as a tambourine shaker whenever she felt like chiming in. The first song of the night was “Tough Like Glue,” which led into “Famous.” Both songs are from her new album that will be released in February and have never been performed before in front of a live audience. In fact, this was her first time performing any songs off of the new album. This was an album preview, an unofficial listening party, and the crowd knew it and listened with insane intensity. It was not until the third song, “Red Balloon,” where Brown sings with such incredible devotion, enunciating every word in Macy Gray fashion, that the audience began to loosen up and engage her as well.
Before starting the fourth song, “Be Yours,” she shared with everyone that she worked on this new album for eight months in her home studio that she calls her “have a cup of tea” studio. She could not help but blush as she announced that she is hopelessly in love with her boyfriend and wrote the lyrics with him in mind. It was an intimate moment that brought everyone a little bit closer to her and revealed some of her charming personality.
Halfway through the show she shared another story. She explained that “Like Fire” is the last song on the album and that she produced it in its entirety; she noted that every drum, string and arrangement are extremely personal for her as it was her first time producing. As soon as the chorus arrived, the melody was immediately recognized as the same one as Usher‘s hit single “There Goes My Baby.” Although she never addressed it, this revelation was one of quite a few pleasant surprises that the show had to offer, another being her sultry voice and organic singing.
Before closing out the show she belted out a gut-wrenching performance of her gold-selling single, “Shark In The Water,” and then shared one final story. She recounted (in her best American accent) how she was in a parking lot playing Angry Birds when she heard an ice cream truck and was so inspired by the classic jingle that she wrote a song incorporating the summer-indicating tune. The beat, which is placed on the final track of the album, is probably the least controversial thing about the song “Children Keep On Singing,” in which she sang the words “The economy’s fucked and everything is upside down/But we don’t give a damn ’cause the children keep on singing.” Lollipops And Politics is probably the most accurately titled album that will come out next year—and by the sound of it, definitely one of the best.