After three years of being away from Leeds, Denai Moore graced the stage again to perform songs off her latest album We Used To Bloom. During her one hour set she sang songs from both her debut and latest album whilst featuring a couple of cover songs, most notably ‘No Angels’ by Beyoncé.
Her song ‘Trickle’ opened the set, a song that delineates her ongoing struggle of dealing with anxiety. As an opener, this was fitting, as something was to be said about how Denai got on stage and immediately began to perform without any introduction. Nevertheless, neither her nor the band’s nerves were obvious to the crowd. Sonically they sounded good – despite the loud drums and guitar – the texture of her voice could be heard clearly. Next, Denai played ‘Leave It Up to You’. Although her eyes were closed through a few verses, her quiet on stage confidence and comfortability transpired. By the end of the song she finally greeted the crowd seemingly more elated.
Following her performance of ‘Does It Get Easier’, Denai covered the song ‘No Angels’ from Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth album. This was a highlight as it showed her artistry; if it wasn’t for my familiarity with the lyrics, it could have been mistaken for a song that she had written and composed herself. Denai injected an element of soul that was absent from the original, something that was further enhanced by the guitar solo. Although probably unplanned, the lighting switched to blue which signalled that Denai had truly come into her element. Blue light tends to be an unfavourable choice for a few black female performers, and considered that Denai was make-up free and quite petite, it spoke for her assurance in her own voice. Now, in her element, she sang a few songs from her first album, one being ‘No Light Here’.
In the latter stages of the performance Denai interacted a little more with the crowd. Before singing ‘Twilight’ she spoke about her love for the talented artist Elliott Smith and informed us that her song ‘Twilight’ was indeed a cover of the Elliott’s original. Denai also revealed the inspiration behind the song ‘Let it happen’. During breaks whilst recording with her producer, she watched the show Parks and Recreation and was inspired by their famous tagline ‘treat yo self’. On a journey to self-love, Donna’s (the show’s character) fierce belief in the practice proved to be a stimulus for writing the song.
The show was ended with three songs, one being her unreleased record ‘Frostbite’ and the other two being ‘Desolately Devoted’ and ‘All The Way’. Overall, despite it being Denai’s first time playing solo (not in a festival) for a while, she gave a tender performance that displayed her songs’ lyricism and her own musical abilities. These diverse abilities were conveyed through playing three instruments throughout the course of the set, this in addition to singing. We Used To Bloom is out now and I would thoroughly recommend it for all Jamila Woods, Kwabs and Laura Mvula fans.By Adaobi Nezianya