I’ve been waiting for so long to see Riva Taylor bring her stunning album to a live audience, and recently I had the chance to do just that in an intimate setting at a fairly new venue in Central London called QT, Covent Garden.
It’s a modern take on a classic speakeasy and recently played host to Gregory Porter. With such classy aspirations it’s really no surprise that one of the first artists to grace the stage was one of this country’s classiest performers, Riva Taylor. It’s equally unsurprising that she was supported by one of the brightest newcomers on the music scene, Celine Love. It would be hard to find a better suited line up to firmly underline the intentions of a venue keen to be seen as an intimate spot with quality music.
Riva released her album ‘This Woman’s Heart.1’ back in 2020 and followed it up in 2021 with ‘This Woman’s Heart.2’. The decision to release the album in two halves was taken not only because the two albums are distinct in their content but also to resemble the two halves of a heart, Riva’s heart, and it was important that TWH.1’s darker, dramatic songs would have time to find their way into the listener’s psyche before TWH.2’s songs of hope and a brighter future came, like a salve, to complete the journey of the music and to emulate Riva’s journey to becoming this new, stunning artist that I saw play live this month. The fact that one released just before the lockdown and the other just as we emerged from the clutches of the pandemic was almost a case of life imitating art as the timing of the brighter, more hopeful songs came at the perfect time.
Live this month, Riva Taylor had the opportunity to finally deliver these songs in the way she loves best. In what was clearly an emotional event for the artist, Riva sang her way through the songs on the record with such articulate clarity that every word resonated with the rapt audience. The classy surroundings meant that the audience was unusually quiet as they listened to each song respectfully, taking in the full meaning and drama of every note before launching into rapturous applause. Riva’s background of theatre and watching her idol whilst supporting Barbra Streisand meant that she was able to deliver the songs that clearly mean so much with honesty and feeling and perfect stagecraft wearing a stunning outfit that perfectly suited the beautiful setting.
Along with singing her own songs there was a glimpse of the future, possibly, as Riva covered ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, the Bossa Nova jazz masterpiece which was originally sung by Pery Ribeiro back in 1962 before winning the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965 and going on to officially become the second most recorded song in history with covers from Frank Sinatra to Dionne Warwick and now Riva Taylor who sang it with a real zest that clearly brought together Brazilian Samba music and Cool Jazz. Bossa Nova means new trend in Portuguese and maybe this was a hint of a new trend in Riva’s musical future. She also covered Celeste’s 2019 song ‘Strange’ and sang it with such sincerity giving the lyrics perfect weight and meaning. Both songs were very different and yet both were beautifully sung.
Riva’s vocals throughout the evening were faultless; the obvious feeling and emotion that she poured into every articulate word was so moving personally and the clear joy and euphoria of singing these songs live in London at last in front of her talented band often seemed to move the artist close to tears as with a glistening eye and perfect delivery she brought her album to glorious life. Her delivery of title track ‘This Woman’s Heart’ seemed to take on new meaning but for me it was the incredible rendition of ‘Woman’ that took my breath away as Riva’s soaring vocals literally had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. Her Kate Bush-esque vocals were quite literally amazing and the performance managed to be even more moving than the video that accompanied the single on its release.
On the evening, Riva Taylor was superbly supported by an artist that I have seen several times recently, an artist that grows with every performance. I firmly believe Celine Love will be a star of the future and the new song she debuted ‘Black Limousine’ was superb, surely a hit in the making for this wonderful artist.
In short, this gig will go down as one of my favourites of the year so far. The setting was perfect for Riva Taylor to give flight to these songs; her vocals and performance were perfect in every way as she released these songs, dove like, into the evening air. I simply can’t wait to hear new music from this artist and see her perform live again. Thank you for a wonderful evening of music.