Grace Ives is your new favourite pop star, you just don’t know it yet. Promoting her second album, Janky Star, the Brooklyn musician delivers irresistible ‘sophisti-pop’, with incisive instrumentals and a smooth vocal to rival the most famous and successful.
Ives came to Manchester for her European debut. Now in her mid-twenties, and some time into her career, she has honed her sound, and on Janky Star she touches on subjects ranging from overdoses to the positives of a slower pace of life. It’s interesting and intelligent songwriting; coupled with the danceable synths and two-stepping drumbeats familiar to the basements of New York, it feels shocking that Ives never has made the trip to the UK before.
YES Basement was treated to a supporting set from Shropshire artist Greysha, bringing atmospheric and potent songs to those who came down early. Blue roses were curled around her microphone front and centre from the stage. With soaring vocals similar to Lorde, working with The Neighbourhood-style sonic framework, the set was well-drilled and carried a lot of charm. The moody cover of Bruno Mars’ ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ was an inspired choice and knitted the original material together very well.
Grace Ives came to the stage alone, boasting a double-mic setup, with keys and a drum machine. Opening energetically, Ives operated within the front 20% of the stage for the duration of the set, directly engaging with fans and playing up to the cameras in the front row taking videos. With a set ranging from the dreamy, Charli XCX-style ‘Back in LA’ to the all-out party of ‘Loose’, Ives negotiated every gear change with complete ease that you don’t even notice it. There is no sign of a musician making their European debut, but a seasoned performer expressing themselves to adoring fans.
With events aside from music including the live debut tasting of Space Raiders crisps, and a misjudged mentioning of Netflix’s The Crown, Ives shone of authenticity throughout her one-hour set. The engagement and the note-perfect vocal performance led the crowd to warm to her, and it’s for certain that she would have converted a few new fans on Monday night.
The highlight of the set was the single ‘Lullaby’, a groovy mid-paced song tinged with sadness and nostalgia, following Ives’ stream of consciousness across a beat that equally makes you want to dive into it. “It’s nothing to be sad about, just something I’ve been thinking about.” The pondering lyrics of ‘Lullaby’ sees Ives at her introspective best.
The crowd at YES Basement were given a wonderful experience on Monday; Grace Ives not only showcased her effortless eclectic pop, but gave a show that saw her in constant dialogue with the crowd. Her music is great, and so is her stage presence; the natural coupling of the two is sure to see Ives return to the UK before too long, and in bigger venues. It’s without a doubt that there’s a bigger picture for Grace Ives.
Grace Ives’ second album Janky Star, is out now.
Quotes taken from Pitch Perfect PR.