Here She Comes… Back to Coventry

by Dan Burton

One of Coventry’s most famous singer-songwriters is returning home this spring. Hazel O’Connor, who was born in Coventry in 1955, will be performing at the Belgrade Theatre in April to promote her new album ‘Here She Comes’. I decided to take a listen to her CD and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

Hazel O'Connor has her own star on Coventry's Walk of Fame

Hazel O’Connor has her own star on Coventry’s Walk of Fame

O’Connor teams up with saxophonist Clare Hirst and pianist Sarah Fisher for her first album since 2011. Hirst is one of the UK’s best known jazz artists and her talent gels perfectly with O’Connor’s powerful vocals. Add in the piano skills of Sarah Fisher and you have an album with a variety of stunning material.

One of the songs that really caught my ear was the moving French ballad ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, which roughly translates into English as ‘Do Not Leave Me’. Many other artists have covered this emotional masterpiece originally by Jacques Brel, however O’Connor keeps the lyrics in French. In a note inside the album cover, she states that ‘the sense of the song is lost in translation’ and pays tribute to the song’s original owner. It may be a cover, but O’Connor still has the talent to bring a lump to the listener’s throat.

There is a lot to be said for the rest of ‘Here She Comes’. O’Connor combines the sorrow of ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ with the punchy and feisty ‘Don’t You Call Me Darling’, which mixes together the traits of today’s songs about love and betrayal with the rhythmic sounds of jazz. I was also taken aback by the beautiful and soulful ‘Still of the Night’. Like ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, this song has so much emotion and power, I even felt the tears in the corners of my eyes.

Hazel O’Connor will be performing at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on 4 April. If ‘Here She Comes’ is anything to go by, the performance will be an amazing night of musical talent. I would recommend O’Connor’s album to any fans of jazz and any of O’Connor’s followers.

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