Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2013: Malene Mortensen

Malene Mortensen, Palazzo Spiegeltent, Edinburgh, Thursday July 25th **

With her soft, lilting voice, Danish singer Malene Mortensen – who made her debut at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival last night – immediately recalled her fellow Scandinavian Silje Nergaard, a festival find of a decade ago. But, disappointingly for those of us who fell under the Nergaard spell, that was where the resemblance ended. Although both singers evidently appreciate witty, eloquent lyrics, only Mortensen favoured them at the expense of a decent melody.

Over the course of her 70-minute set, Mortensen – who represented Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest ten years ago, and came last – highlighted her pop credentials in a series of generally funky, unremarkable and occasionally almost tuneless numbers. The main appeal of most of the original compositions – songs with such titles as Ambiguous Blues and Your Love is Digital – was their wilfully erudite lyrics (something that singers who don’t count English as their first language seem to take very seriously); musical appeal was far from obvious. Mind you, it might have been more apparent had there been a more sympathetic, less in-your-face accompaniment: the electric guitar, bass and drums provided a rather dry , cool setting for Mortensen’s lovely voice.

Things looked set to improve when Mortensen announced that one of her favourite composers is Antonio Carlos Jobim. Unfortunately, the song with which she chose to represent his oeuvre was possibly his least inspiring melodically, but most wittily worded: One Note Samba. Sums it up, really.

*First published in The Scotsman, Friday July 26

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