Review: Monica Spears at The Velvet Note
* * * * 1/2 (4.5 Stars out of 5)
By Michael Lane, Staff Reviewer
If there ever was a hard-pressed follow-up performance in the music industry, it certainly comes on the heels of Valentine’s Day. Even with vocalist Monica Spears in the company of her band, this is no small feat. But just as the love of Valentine’s Day carries over, so does the euphoria, and for this show, it was a delicious, metaphorical icing on the cake.
Bassist John Roberts stole the first song with his vivid midsection solo that culminated into a wonderfully-syncopated musical painting of a dozen different bright colors. Monica’s voice rose above the song’s arrangement and lovingly caressed all forty audience members like a hand to a cheek. Her stage presence was low-key, as the most complex acts tend to be. Not one note, vocally or instrumentally, was out of place tonight, a sign of meticulous preparation and focus.
In addition to an expected and highly-anticipated performance of “My Funny Valentine”, the quartet performed around a dozen soulful, jazzy interpolated tunes. Monica sounded like a calmer Erykah Badu, with a more jovial, positive demeanor than her self-designated counterpart, Jessica Rabbit. Her version of the Sinatra classic, “I’ve got You Under my Skin”, was like hearing Betty Wright sing a soul composition. Her interpretation of the Beatle’s classic, “And I Love Her”, was fresh and sultry, unlike any rendition this reviewer has ever heard of the Fab Four. Monica was never weighed down by her band, who all kept metronome-worthy time and seemed to delicately place their sonic inputs in synchronous regard for the proverbial melodic minefield.
It is hard to imagine that Monica Spears has never released a single recording, and yet, despite this fact, she commands the stage and your attention with her sultry voice and fortified presence. Your emotions boil, your heart sweats and you become almost dazed in the luminous afterglow of her songs. It’s like stepping out of a sauna in a South Carolina summer to see your sweetheart beckoning you into a cool, clear swimming pool—it’s pure, refreshing lust that you hope will never end.