Fresh from the release of his debut album, XamVolo played his adopted hometown at the top of a hefty soul bill, Getintothis’ Lewis Ridley was there for a jam.
XamVolo, or Sam Folorunsho to his mates. Once a budding architect that moved North in search of a career crafting the skyline, turned musical artist crafting soul on stage from city to city.
He’s a bedroom artist success story, an alumnus of the LIMF Academy, and now he has a debut album to his name.
So, time to take it on the road, right? It was Liverpool’s Arts Club theatre (the main room) that would be one of the first see XamVolo post-debut album, as he topped a four strong bill.
Entering after a flurry from his band, came Sub Blue. He’s a solo artist who quite literally emits the style of suburban blues that has inspired his title.
Real name Tyler Mensah, (long time readers will know how he’s navigated the clubs and basements of Liverpool for several years now; including a GIT Award nomination back in 2013 when aged just 15), he negotiates his way through new tune Russian Roulette as an already busy Arts Club sways to his low timbre.
A curveball comes, though, in contrast to the bouncy r’n’b tracks that dominated his set, a gentle guitar track that lays him bare – but it’s this laying his soul on the line that sees him shine ever brighter.
Next up is, Mersey Wylie. We know Mersey, she played Getintothis’ Independent Women at Independent Venue Week gig the other week.
This time, she’s with her full entourage, compete with a sax to her left hand side and backing singers and other musicians to her right.
She is sharp tongued in some parts, soulful in most, and grooves throughout to keys and bass with the undercurrent of two backing singers. “I’m not just bossy, I strive to be the boss.” Enough said.
— John (@volshy) February 7, 2019
The entrée, then, XamVolo. We know that most are in here for him; most of the queue lined outside to see an artist that is perhaps rare in a sense he is genuinely likeable, and genuinely liked.
His songs are peppered with jams, as the sheer strength of his voice is enough to almost intercept, stop and start the room as he so wishes.
He smiles, wide, and points out the fact that tonight there need be no introductions. His is an understated charm; effortless yet grandiose.
A cover of Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy is inverted, slowed down and Xam-med up. It works a treat.
Smooth like Galaxy caramel, @xamvolo got the @ArtsClubHQ in the palm of his hand. What a voice & vision – and that supporting band of musicians are quite something too. This fella’s the real deal and Liverpool is lucky to have him here on our doorstep. pic.twitter.com/eLOX3oe5Sa
— Peter Guy (@Getintothis) February 7, 2019
The midpoint high arrives with Adore – a centrepiece of his album which swells before crashing to a standstill to allow our lead man to freestyle vocally before a searing guitar solo marries with his melodious harmony as the track reaches an ecstatic finale. It’s redolent of Stevie jamming with Kamasi Washington. Yet, XamVolo is his own singular spirit.
Tonight was his, almost entirely, and he enjoyed it as such. There’s much more to come from XamVolo, when and what is yet to be seen, but he is a man that is true soul, with dashes of determination and ample ambition. It will sure be a fun ride along.
Images by Getintothis’ Amy Chidlow