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Review: V.V. Brown swings through Tampa on her way to stardom




Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Joss Stone, Adele, Duffy: All are British, all take a retro-minded approach to pop music, all were nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys.

This year, there’s no reason to think V.V. Brown won’t be next on that list.

Born in Northampton, England, Brown is racking up widespread acclaim for her 2009 debut, Travelling Like the Light, which mixes juke-joint jazz and soul with Alicia-like R&B. This month she delivered a hip-swiveling performance on Letterman, and she’s currently swinging and sashaying her way through the Southeast with Maroon 5 and Kris Allen.

On Friday afternoon, a few hours before playing a private charity event at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Brown stopped by Clear Channel’s Best Buy Musical Instruments Theatre in Tampa for a quick but explosive acoustic set for about 30 fans and contest winners. And if they weren’t convinced Brown was for real beforehand, they certainly were afterward.

Blending folk, funk jive on an acoustic “remix” of Game Over, Brown scatted and beatboxed over her whip-smart band. The chug-a-lugging, rockabilliy-tinged L.O.V.E. — you may recognize it from a Hellman’s mayonnaise commercial — was another feat of vocal gymnastics. Her hit single Shark in the Water was grand and poppy, as expected, but she managed to keep the energy level high.

As she sang, Brown did her best to twist and dance in her seat, flicking her skirt in flirty flourishes and clapping her hands and telling stories about writing songs on Garage Band in her bedroom. When the crowd demanded an encore, the cover-friendly Brown obliged with a bluesy, half-rapped, half-sung version of Drake’s Best I Ever Had, which is groovier and more poetic than the original.

Friday’s all-too-short acoustic set was the only chance many Tampa Bay fans may get to see Brown up close for a while. But it was worth it, just to plant the seed of what she could become. When she comes back to town — possibly as a Grammy-nominated star — you’ll want to catch her in person.

— Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo: Radko Keleman, Clear Channel Communications, Inc.

[Last modified: Friday, August 20, 2010 4:46pm]


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