I first heard of Simeon through friends who had seen her perform at The Black Deer Festival and been wowed by her versatility and stunning vocals and so when I was able to see her sing live at her sell out EP launch at The Lexington in late August I jumped at the chance.
It was in preparation for the gig that I began a wonderful journey of discovery about the artist and her music. Simeon’s musical history will sound like a familiar one to many artists who have pulled themselves away from a controlling label and had the dedication, bravery and belief to continue on and make the music that they wanted to. Even the title of her new EP, ‘Make It Romantic’, has the feeling of a slightly sarcastic swipe at controlling advice or direction that may have been directed her way once upon a time as well as being the title of a tender ballad about being remembered on her own terms by an ex-lover. It would come as no surprise then that the launch gig felt like part vindication, part celebration and all about the future of this outstanding artist.
The launch gig itself had all the earmarks of a special evening with the choice of a wonderful venue that was packed to the rafters even on a Monday evening and the opening act of the brilliant Joe Corbin, an artist of power and passion whose honest, blues driven music and guitar playing certainly set the bar very high for the evening ahead and has become a personal discovery of an artist I am keen to hear more from.
Simeon’s quality finds its heart in her writing which never feels anything less than honest, soul baring and unapologetic. Her subject matter moves almost effortlessly from her scathing and caustic ‘The Blues is a Game’, EP opener and scene setter, which proclaims “I’ve got something to say and it burns like a flame” to the heart-breaking vulnerability of ‘Betting on You’ to the nostalgic feel of ‘Make it Romantic’ which calls to mind the vocals of Etta James. This EP manages to ooze quality into all five of its tracks and follows on wonderfully from previous EP ‘Manic Pixie Dreams’.
Simeon gave both releases their due respect at The Lexington and it seemed fitting that she opened with the first track of her previous release ‘Out to You’ and closed with the new EP’s title track and final track ‘Make it Romantic’; it felt like the live performance in the order she chose was as carefully selected as her beautiful wardrobe right down to the Jimmy Choos and the stunning tasselled encore outfit that added just the perfect sprinkling of sultry sensuality for the evening’s conclusion. This is an artist that simply has everything she needs to be one of our brightest stars and this is reflected by the devotion and diversity of her audience.
Brilliantly supported by her band, Max O’Hara on keys, Westley Joseph on skins and Leon Itzler on bass who has produced and mastered both EP releases and obviously intimately understands Simeon’s music and the messages she is sending, Simeon Hammond Dallas gave a performance of such confidence and innate power that gave her incredible rapport and connection with a crowd that swayed and sang to her every whim; the atmosphere was so intoxicating and heady that for one poor fan it became too much and when she fainted, SHD even handled that with the same understanding that she puts into every word she sings.
A week later and this same singer opened one of the UK’s biggest Country and Americana Festivals. The Long Road Festival’s iconic Front Porch seemed the perfect place and Simeon Hammond Dallas seemed the perfect voice for a Country Americana Festival that would later that weekend give up that same stage to a ‘Color Me Country Radio’ takeover as Country music continued to embrace the power, presence and importance of singers of colour to the genre and to music in general; to me the voice of Simeon and the intelligence of her song writing could not be better timed to be the perfect reminder of that very fact.