I went to see VV Brown perform an intimate gig at Electrowerkz last month, and only now have I been able to release myself from the spell she put me under.
The Northampton born star performed tracks from her new album Samson & Delilah. Which, if you’ve heard Brown’s tracks before, has to be listened to, to be believed.
No longer is she the retro pop singer who became known for her quirky hairstyle and bubblegum lyrics. A dark cloud seems to have descended over the half Jamaican, half Puerto Rican beauty. A cloud that followed her onto the stage and rested at her feet in the East London venue, as she performed tracks from her new album.
Gone was her trademark fringe and her girly dresses. No longer did we hear Brown sing about butterflies and getting her head in a dilly. We saw a woman reborn, an ice cold Grace Jones with a pretty face.
Four years ago, she was being compared to Janelle Monae. She was also modelling in Marks & Spencer’s adverts alongside Twiggy and Dannii Minogue. They wouldn’t touch her now.
Brown’s transformation would have happened during her 2011 Lollipops & Politics album. The album that was cancelled. Brown revealed to Billboard that something wasn’t right about it. It didn’t feel authentic.
It didn’t feel like it was where I should be and the record I wanted to make… so I called up the label and sort of said that it’s not really right for me. We agreed to not release the album and they let me go.
When they ‘let her go’ Brown took a break from music, started her own record label YOY, which stands for You Own You and started to produce music with feeling.
When I wrote Lollipops and Politics, I was writing to a brief. I was writing for radio, and I was writing for chart success for certain places melodically. But when I was in the studio with this [Samson & Delilah], there were no restrictions with those things in mind. This record is meant to be what it is. Whether it’s successful on the radio, on the charts or not, this record exists because it is what it is. I think that’s why it came so easily. It was like opening the floodgates.
When Brown performed one of her new tracks Ingenous, with the only light in the room focused on her eyes, it felt like she was inviting us into a secret place she had wanted to show us for years.
Because it all seemed so natural and felt so right, that I’m starting to wonder if VV Brown was hiding all this beautiful darkness inside of her, ever since the days when we heard her spew out those pretty little lyrics forced down her throat by a record label determined on selling quick records.
She is still the same talented woman with a voice that forces you to listen. And when she asks us in Looking for Love to tell her what we’re looking for and what we really need, the answer is easy: A fearless artist whose music is now so real, so pure, the songs she released in the past are simply erased from our memories.
VV Brown starts her European tour on 21 November in London.