- 25 Apr 22
Relive Caleb Kunle's soulful, jazz-forward set on Saturday night's Hot Press Y&E Series below...
Caleb Kunle brought soul to the Y&E Series on Saturday night with a smooth, beautiful and jazz-forward set.
"This is cool, coming from my home into yours," he started. Sitting in the dim lamp-light of his living room, the setting matched seemed to match the warmth and cosiness of the music. Kunle's voice seemed imbued with honey, blending seamlessly with the gentle piano to invoke an old-school jazz record.
Starting his set off in the minor-key, the singer began with a low, mellow track that quickly established him as a master of soulful vocals. Stripped down to just him and a piano, the instrumentation allowed his voice to soar — its full sound more than making up for a lack of back-track.
"That was a really fun song that came to me in a dream. It's a journey song, it's a song about finding oneself from slavery, displacement, all the things that move us around," he followed up the song, before launching into 'Healing' - a warm, nostalgic track reminiscent of a '70s soul record.
"Music gives me healing/ like the summer rain/ like the winter sunshine," Kunle sang, his voice accented by piano flourishes. Throughout, each of his songs seemed to paint a visual picture — with 'Healing' it was dancing in the kitchen, warmed by streams of afternoon sun. The singer managed to dissolve the screen barrier between himself and his audience.
Moving from interpretive soul directly into the realm of jazz, Caleb continued his set with 'Moaning,' a beautiful standard that evoked images of a smoky jazz club, transporting the listener to the darkened rooms of the 1920s. Whether diving into low chest notes or reaching high, his voice contained a raspy, warm sonic quality that carried throughout the set.
Where his recorded works are more heavily produced, the simplicity of his live set allowed the jazz and soul elements to bleed through, painting the songs with a new element of blue.
Near the end of the set, Kunle pulled out the guitar for a rendition of 'Boogey Man,' a deeply moving, gorgeous song that had his voice slanting in and out of minor — illustrating his emotive songwriting, as well as more modern persuasion. With gentle, barely-there piano and simple guitar it was the lyricism that cut deep.
Calling Lagos, Laois and London home, Caleb Kunle draws inspiration from his varied background to create a blend of soul, jazz and folk that stands as nostalgically familiar, yet still excitingly new. He released his last single, 'Could Be Good' last November — his first work with Hackney-based independent label Pony Records. Now, he is moving forward as one of the most exciting emerging talents on the international stage.
Finishing off the set with 'Call Me Mad,' Kunle ended the same way he started, with an outpouring of soul. Be sure to check out his full set on the Hot Press Instagram, below.
Watch the Hot Press Y&E Series – supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media – live on the Hot Press Instagram (@hotpressmagazine) at 7pm each night.
Coming up on the Y&E Series:
Thursday, April 28: Amberlight
Made up of vocalist Lauren Doherty and guitarist/producer/songwriter Paul Casey, this Derry duo have been busy over the last two years, releasing an exciting selection of singles and accompanying videos, including the likes of 'The Song My Heart Sings' , 'Strong Enough', 'Only Love (A Fisherman's Lament)' and 'Peace at Last'. They also contributed to the Rave On, Van Morrison series, performing a cover of 'Celtic New Year'.