REVIEW: HER SOUL (Music / Cabaret)

Set in the chic surrounds of La Boheme, Mahalia Barr-Mashei sparkled on stage with her three-piece band. The Adelaide-based songstress paid tribute to soul artists and shared personal stories in her latest show.

Mahalia Barr-Mashei. Photo supplied.

Barr-Mashei was ably accompanied by Sam Leske on guitar, Paul White on Hammond keys, Brad Polain on drums, and Joshua Angeles on backing vocals.

She curated a truly terrific song list of hits from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner, Burt Bacharach, Mary J Blige, and Roberta Flack, among others.

For an hour, the audience was treated to a selection of hits and, as I looked around me, there were many people tapping their feet, nodding in time, and dancing in their seats. Some even sang along to the chorus of well-known, catchy and heartfelt tunes.

She opened the show with a beautiful arrangement of ‘Killing Me Softly’ which instantly drew me in, and her voice shone in its lower register and subtle, warmer timbres. Her rendition of ‘His Eye Is On the Sparrow’ was stunning.

Her rhythm section supported her well, attentively adjusting their dynamics and feel throughout, highlighting their strong musicianship. Tasteful underscoring of Barr-Mashei’s audience interaction added a sophisticated layer to the show.

Although Barr-Mashei’s audience interaction felt tentative at first, she soon warmed into her role and told some very funny stories about a faceless ragdoll she once owned, and an audition she tried out for as a child that she is still waiting to hear back from.

She has the potential to be an exceptional cabaret artist, should she refine the segues between her songs and stories, and give more acknowledgement to her excellent band.

Barr-Mashei has a great sense of humour and refining her comic timing would further add to her show. Unfortunately, an unrefined sound mix caused her voice to be lost behind the band at some points. However this wasn’t enough to mar my enjoyment of the show.

Joshua Angeles’ soulful tenor complemented Barr-Mashei, but his performance would have been stronger had he not been reading from pages of notes.

Both Angeles and Barr-Mashei got the groove going with their dance moves during uptempo numbers, and their duet, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ was a particular highlight.

Barr-Mashei is a notable creative who bares her soul through music with integrity and a glamorous sense of style.

Rating ☆☆☆☆

Reviewed performance: 3 March 2018
Time: 5.00 pm

Season closed
Venue: La Boheme

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