Georgia Omarah - Take My Hand EP (Review by Pete Falloon)
Traditional blues tunes often revolve around tales of personal woe and hardship. Coming closer to the present day, a recent study of hit songs over the last 50 years found twelve key themes came up time and again, and half of these involved some kind of sorrow: loss, breakup, pain, desperation, confusion, and jadedness. Clearly, these emotional topics really connect with the audience, but without a positive note, such material can be tough listening. I'd like to think that every cloud has a silver lining, and to me, that's where Georgia Omarah comes in. Her songwriting tackles some very difficult subjects - grief, loss, and mental health - but it has a wonderfully rare, uplifting feel to it that sets it apart. It's that positivity despite, and because of the blues, Georgia's vulnerable and relatable voice, and the piano-driven composition that brings to mind Carole King's classic Tapestry LP. Little wonder then, that U.K. radio DJ legend, Ted Evans, an avid supporter of new original music, has described Georgia as one of Devon's musical treasures - and she has strong support from BBC Introducing too.
Take My Hand is the debut E.P. from British singer-songwriter, Georgia Omarah. Based in Devon, Southwest UK, her music has its roots in classic blues, soul, jazz and even a touch of country rock, with a contemporary feel. Influenced by the likes of Carole King, Jo Hartman, Adele and Amy Winehouse, Georgia sings from the heart and from personal experience with a huge, warm and tender voice that pulls at the heartstrings. She writes honest, unpretentious, and simply just great songs with fantastic melodies and thoughtful arrangements. Take My Hand is a beautiful collection of six of Georgia's original compositions, with her vocals and piano lines backed by drums, bass, and guitars from her very solid and soulful band and contributions from close friend Brian Catchpole.
"Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been truly lost, by heartache inside that made you die?" begins the title track, with flowing piano lines and slowly building organ and guitar. Georgia's voice soars like an angel in the chorus - "I can't find my way... I'm lost and I'm scared, so will somebody please take take my hand?". And it's here that amidst a tale of heartbreakingly honest anguish, that hope shines out like a bright ray of sunshine through a rain-soaked sky. Take My Hand is followed by We Are Going Down, a stirring, rockier, upbeat breakup song that really showcases how versatile Georgia's voice is - a real powerhouse here, with some lovely vocal harmonies. Track four, Loved By You, is a lovely slower smoky soul-jazz number with harmonies and strings giving it an almost Sade-like feel and brilliant lead vocal delivery that demonstrates Georgia's vocal range.
This jazzy influence is also found on Not Today, which almost has a touch of trip-hop with the descending baseline, and spooky, mellow keyboards. The fifth track, Moving On, is a simply beautiful song about grief and bereavement, and featured on the acclaimed Macmillan Cancer Support album ‘Coffee and Songs'. Having been lucky enough to see Georgia perform live a number of times, every time she sings this tune feels like it is the first time she has sung it - raw, touching and deeply personal - and this version captures that perfectly, drawing you into the disbelief, disorientation and sorrow of loss as the tale unfolds. The last track, Let Me Fade is an epic, rocked-up country-soul-pop number with beautiful harmonies and chugging guitars that on top of the influences mentioned above, has a bit of a Faith Hill feel, with lovely airy vocals and harmonies. It's a fitting end to the E.P. and leaves you wanting more. And, I have it on good authority that there will indeed be more, in the form of an album, in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, if you are in the Southwest UK keep an eye out for Georgia Omarah live - you won't regret it - and give her debut a listen. Yes, she treads some deep water with these songs, but she does so with a grace and appeal that shines out and pulls you right into the storytelling. Tori Amos has described Carole King's work on Tapestry as being like sonic movies that you want to walk right into, and the same is true with the songs that Georgia Omarah writes - you are there with her deep in the plot and on the edge of your seat until the music fades away.