February 14, 2018
Domali Café, Crystal Palace
“I hope you had a lovely Valentine’s evening listening to songs about abuse, dementia, murder and ghosts”
Far from the cliched Hallmark version of romance, Hannah Rose Platt’s depiction of love was all the more grittily realistic for it. Her songs centred on fractured memory, longing and loss.
It was oddly refreshing to hear her say she has no love songs and only two songs about (bad) relationships, when many of her less talented contemporaries have nothing but. Platt set her sights wider – topics included Josephine Baker, a historical hurricane and nineteenth century immigration.
It’s not that Platt doesn’t have love to give – she sang the praises of her grandparents and step-dad, after all. Her thoughtful, poignant words were infused with love, too. In Brooklyn, about enforced separation, she sang “I miss the faces of the children we won’t have.” Platt’s pure, angelic voice ranged from precisely powerful to beautifully breaking, reminiscent of Jewel.
In the two set performance, she spanned her career right from a song she started writing when she was ten, to Sorry, written just two weeks earlier. There was also time for a handful of covers, but even they weren’t cliched choices. Erin Enderlin’s You Don’t Know Jack, Dolly Parton’s simple bluegrass number Little Sparrow and one of the earliest songs ever recorded – Hello, Central, Give Me Heaven – all made appearances.
Amusingly, she fit in two renditions of her ghostly murder ballad Chanel and Cigarettes: “there’s new people here and I like playing it!” The song bore repeating. It was deftly crafted with a macabre twist. Another standout track was Dancer, which had been written in the venue about a waitress that worked in the café at the time.
So, to recap, Hannah Rose Platt had a stunning voice and nuanced lyrics imbued with a sense of drama, history and humour. She even sang a song inspired by the café. So, it really is a shame that half the crowd missed all of that by talking through the entire performance. Not cool. Where’s the love?
Hannah Rose Platt is gearing up for the release of her second album with a string of tour dates. Londoners have options but the obvious choice has to be St. Pancras Old Church: a beautiful venue with a listening crowd.