Eyes shining from under a wave of raven hair, Eileen Rose launched into a brand new track: Twenty Dollar Shoes. Accompanied only by her superbly be-quiffed guitarist Seth Goodman, the Italian American singer-songwriter was in town to promote her third album Come The Storm, but this song was so new it didn’t even feature on that. Despite this it was an instant hit with the small but rapt crowd at Soho’s subterranean Borderline.
Following an extended set by a supporting band whose lead singer sounded like Janis Joplin after a razorblade cocktail, Rose’s less full on yet warm and charismatic approach was eminently welcome; her cool bluesy voice, rich range of influences and evident sense of fun raise her a level above the female singer-songwriter crowd that she is sometimes lumped in with. Come The Storm follows on in the same vein as her previous two albums; it doesn’t have quite as many overtly sing-alongable moments but it’s no less enjoyable for their absence.
Last New Year’s Eve however, though the new album’s opener, is an all-out stomper of a track; an excellent choice for release as her upcoming (and first official) single, making her feel “like a grown up.” It has a fresh yet familiar quality that made it already seem like an old favourite. Speaking of which, she also found room amongst the new material for a couple of rousing numbers from her debut album Shine Like It Does which cheered the pair of scarily energetic middle aged dancers bouncing away in front of the stage no end. Unfortunately there was only time for one track from her more satisfying and ambitious second album Long Shot Novena (Tom Waits Crooning: not an obvious choice) to get an airing.
After a couple of solo numbers she settled behind the piano for the atmospheric Saffron and Ginger, somewhat overlong on Come The Storm but a song that really came into its own in a live setting, marred only by a little background microphone buzz.
This was an all too short set, but Rose still found time to make a quick dig at her Catholicism – via an amusing Vatican-centric anecdote – before proceeding to perform a song in Italian with rather cool results. Criminally, the Borderline was not full to capacity, which while stopping things from descending into the sweatfest the venue can sometimes become, seemed a shame for Rose herself. She has a small but dedicated fanbase; once people discover her they tend to stick around – let’s hope more people discover her soon.