The swank little venue of The Lexington in Angel played host to Andreya Triana this past Wednesday. The British Soul singer-songwriter has finally put the finishing touches on her sophomore album Giants – the relief of which was evident in her radiant smile between songs – and she was clearly eager to share the new material in its entirety after the slow trickle of a handful of tracks in the last three months.
Her 2010 debut album Lost Where I Belong was a stripped-back, unhurried affair, with downtempo producer-whiz Bonobo steering the ship, but opening her performance with the explosive “It’s Not Over“, fittingly titled and whipped along by handclaps, Triana announces herself and this new chapter of hers with a bang. A quick pleasantry is exchanged once she and the crowd feel the last tremor of the opener, she’s charming as ever but doesn’t dawdle all too long.
She’s been itching to get these songs heard after keeping them to herself for so long. “Keep Running” leaves everyone in the small room breathless after its bouncing pace, and “Paperwalls” and “Changing Shapes Of Love” are endearing love songs with springs in their steps that get hearts a-fluttering in the room. Things get bigger with “Giants“, the title-track from the new album, and it lives up to its name, its grandiosity making the diminutive singer seemingly grow to 7 feet tall during its huge chorus.
There’s a glint in her eye after all of this, her smile as big as it will be during the night, and it’s a tell-tale sign that she’s still got the biggest card up her sleeve yet. The card in question? It’s the lead single off her album, the alluringly titled “Gold“. It’s been making appearances on the radio since its release about a month ago, and it makes you think this time around, there’s big things on the horizon for Andreya. It’s received with wide-open arms by the crowd tonight. There’s a gospel tinge to the track, with a huge, rousing sing-along phrase at its centre, and there isn’t one person in the venue that isn’t a back-up singer once the song is in full swing.
The show has its more tender moments as well, something that Triana’s airy voice conveys effortlessly. There’s a sensitivity and vulnerability present deep inside the singer, and when she dips into that well, it helplessly disarms the listener. “Everything You Never Had Pt. II” is a heart-warming tribute to her mother, for standing by her along her journey and always being there for her. Triana lays her soul bare and wears her heart on her sleeve during the performance, accompanied by some moving piano arrangements, and the hush in the crowd suggests each and every person there and then were themselves secretly sending out ‘I love you’s’ to their mums.
In amongst all of this, Triana throws in “Lullaby”, her dedication to the great Lauryn Hill, who has been a shining inspiration for her in wanting to become a singer and songwriter. The piano jabs and lyrical groove are reminiscent of the sounds on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, an album that she immersed herself in as a self-confessed grumpy kid, and it’s to these heights that she’ll forever work towards, driving her to become better and better. She’s already unquestionably one of the freshest talents in the UK.
Oldies like “Lost Where I Belong”, “A Town Called Obsolete“, and “Darker Than Blue” were all thrown into the mix as well, and were unsurprisingly very welcomed by the crowd. It’s testament to Triana’s new material, that it sparked the same kind of excitement and yelps from the crowd as those fan-favourites. To end the night, as an encore, it’s just Triana and the pianist on stage, and they perform an exquisite rendition of “Song For A Friend“. It’s a soft and heart-warming tale of companionship, and it has the crowd completely transfixed. It seems like everyone’s stopped breathing so as not to blow away this precious moment.
What’s abundantly clear as the night progresses is that Andreya Triana’s wanting to do something different with her second album. She will always have her tender moments, but she wants to have a bit more fun, and wants things to be much bigger, and it’s safe to say that she’s fulfilling both of those desires with her new Giant material.
Words by Oli Kuscher