How NOT to write about music – 153. Celeste

celeste

Away from all the shouting…

This nearly slipped past me, unobtrusively. So glad it didn’t.

There’s a musical device called an appoggiatura, an ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. “When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves,” writes musicologist Martin Guhn, “and it feels good.”

The above paragraph was taken from my live review of Sam Smith in The Guardian, 2015 – and I was using it as a device to attack whiny Sam with. (I went on to point out that Sam Smith’s music is littered with dozens of these, often within seconds of each other. He relies upon them so much, it often feels he’s forgotten to write a song to match. This, depending on your perspective, is a wonderful gift. Tickets for his sold-out Brisbane show were going for $300.) I would like to use it once again now, to help highlight what makes rising star *OFFICIAL* Celeste so special.

“Like Adele, only with some finesse,” as one of my Music Journalism students remarked. Yep. Damn straight. I’m paraphrasing. She understands the power of silence, the power of stillness in a way that so many stars pretend to these days, but really don’t. She is unafraid to pause, to stop, to resolve. Celeste knows when to use her voice, and when not to use her voice and (the underline emphasis is mine) the value of not showing off. Like Amy Winehouse before her, it feels like she is living every vowel, every drawn-out consonant. You believe in her. I want to compare her to a Voice that gets to regularly abused through comparison that I shudder to invoke it so let’s just whisper… Billie Ho…

Can you imagine if professionally constipated Capaldi had a voice as great as this?

Ugh. Ugh.

Nine thousand views for her BRIT Awards performance. 2.3 millions views and rising for Billie Eilish. Seems like she may have passed a lot of people by. Shame.

This next song is where I first encountered Celeste, and I have been meaning to write about her since. In the parlance of the young, and the freshly Lizzo-converted, and the fresh-limbed, and the late night drunk tanks, this is a total banger. Reminds me of Beth Ditto, clear – but only reminds me, right? (And as an old school Gossip fan, this is meant with total respect.) Again, such a great sense of pace and silence and knowledge of when to let go and when to stop.

Oh bugger. She’s only gone and collaborated with Paul Weller. Well, of course she has. Whatever his faults, Weller always did have an ear for female vocalists.

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