REVIEW: Kawala at Omeara | SOLD OUT!
Kawala are acoustic duo formed of childhood friends Jim Higson and Daniel McCarthy, formed in one of London’s most creative hubs of Camden Town. The group is naturally acoustic, with their signature sound formed of just vocals and an acoustic guitar, playing their biggest sold out show to date at London’s Omeara on the back of just a couple of releases.
In a world where electronic-pop is taking over, Kawala boldly brought back the traditional style of guitar and vocals to the forefront. They opened the night on ‘Do It Like You Do,’ the latest release under their new label Marathon Artists. The song sees the duo’s classic guitar strums to carry the melodic accompaniment, with a full band behind them to create an eclectic live set. The vocal harmonies from both leading members perfectly unify and create an easily identifiable sound that is only Kawala’s, creating a vibe perfect for the start of summer.
After spending the last two to three years collecting a huge following purely through their live performances around the UK, this was the band’s first gig playing their released songs, and first (of many, I’m sure) live performance of ‘Small Death,’ a momentous occasion! Despite the ominous title, the song is still an easy, pleasant listen to the ear, fuelled by emotion and evoking empathy. To the band’s charmingly humble surprise, ‘Small Death’ was the most roaring part of the night, as each member of the audience knew the song inside out after it’s widespread acclaim. The song attained a place on Spotify’s highly acclaimed New Music Friday playlist in its first week of release, and has accumulated over 100K streams in less than a month.
The night saw Kawala playing their classic songs for friends and fans who have been following them for years, including their most popular ‘Mighty River,’ performed with a simple, quiet guitar accompaniment, the main emphasis on the vocals and lyrics. There is an evident folk influence in their music, but Kawala keep it contemporary incorporating upbeat elements, keeping them a competitive contender in the world of commercial contemporary music.
Describing in this to be one of the first gigs where they’ve had more unknown faces than friends and family – a sure sign of a band’s increasing fanbase and impact - the gig still carried a homely, personal environment where there was open and affectionate support for the band on all sides, from their management to their grandparents and everyone in between cheering them on. The accessibility they offer their fans through their regular live shows in intimate settings also allows a personal relationship to develop between them and their listeners, only enhancing their likeability.
Kawala also have fostered a large community of emerging musicians around them, supporting highly acclaimed fellow songwriters Leo Stannard in 2016, Carmody at Peckham’s Bussey Building late last year, and covering Tom Misch’s ‘Beautiful Escape’ with a classy video stylized around the duo’s silhouettes.
The numerous live shows and collection of tracks has launched the band right to the front of the emerging artist scene, and we’re sure they’re only going to be playing venues bigger and brighter in the months to come.