Paris Wells – Raval at Macquarie Hotel (23.09.10)

Melbourne’s Paris Wells has made quite a name for herself a skilled songstress, with talent well beyond her years and a collection of tracks with quality few can match. And now, with the Mushroom Music Publishing behind her, Paris has arrived in Sydney to preview her new album, the brilliant Various Small Fires. And tonight, in front of fans, friends and perhaps even family, Paris gave us a taste of what to expect from this new work.

Paris was accompanied at the intimate Raval by a three piece band – a drummer, guitarist and keyboardist – leaving her to focus on the vocals. “Small Fire” opened up proceedings, and “Believe In Me” followed with a catchy beat that would even give Spoon a run for their money. “Goldie” was another truly catchy number. “Let’s Get It Started”, meanwhile, showcased a more gypsy vibe – and “Jenny”, a tune about her alter ego – was pop through and through.

A couple of old tracks were thrown in for good measure, and there was definitely a different feel to them – “You Got Love”, for instance, provided us with a lot more soul than her newer, catchier, poppier tracks. Unfamiliar with her back catalogue, I’m now very keen to chase up some of that material. But I’m in no way saying the new music isn’t quality – it’s quite brilliant – just not doubt different to what she has done previously.

Take new track “How Many Moons”, for instance – this is a track that Paris said was incredibly difficult to write, but it payed off. It’s easily my favourite of the new album, the most developed, and I think it’s a favourite of hers too.

As we came to the end of the set, we were sent on our way by the Sia-esque “Through and Through” – another fun number that worked beautifully within the intimate surrounds of the Raval. I’d expect it as a single.

It’s clear Paris has worked hard on this new material, and while there’s still a bit to go in terms of polishing it live, it’s already sounding pretty damn wonderful. But the question is – will long time fans love the catchier feel to the new material, or will they find it too commercial? While I’m no long term fan, to me it feels like she’s simply grown as an artist. The album is indeed beautifully polished thanks to some record label dollars, however it remains a personal, emotive and versatile collection of tracks that is starting to translate beautifully live. Stay tuned for more!

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.