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The Voice Of Limelight - Meet Gaëlle Buswel Live

Arcticle initially posted on my Facebook page, The Acoustic Corner.

Photos by Mathilde Lacazette.

Gaëlle Buswel is a French promising artist, that some people could call a new talent. There is no doubt she's got talent indeed. Also, as she hasn't been put forward in main media yet, it could be quite obvious to assume she would be new. However, the truth is that she is not that new. Actually, Gaëlle Buswel would rather be a long-time performing artist, who has built up a solid stage experience over a decade. In summer 2011, she also made up her debut album, Yesterday's Shadow, produced on her own with the help of American bluesman Neal Black. In a way, for the past 10 years, stage has been the core of Gaëlle Buswel's activity, making her a live performer, an charismatic entertainer and a foolproof musician. Therfore, if you don't know Gaëlle Buswel, have never heard of her or her music, go and attend a gig of hers : stage is her favorite place, definitely.


In late January, I had the opportunity to see Gaëlle Buswel live for the first time. It was in Blois, Loire Valley, at the prestigious All That Jazz music hall. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't a full show of hers : just a 20-short-minute performance, backed up by guitarist Patrice Bui, as she was actually supporting Nina Attal there. A short gig, but she really blew the audience away and gained a large ovation already. I really enjoyed her performance that night, and I was then eagerly looking forward to attending a full show of hers in the long run.

I didn't have to wait that long as Gaëlle Buswel was back to Blois on March 16 . After her first sold-out concert at L'Azile in La Rochelle (see photos), she came to Le Velvet Jazz Lounge, in the old city of Blois. Now she's started her tour in France, she has her band with her, featuring Michaal Benjelloun and William Atzel on guitars, and Jimmy Montout on percussions. And of course, this time I was glad to attend a full show!


On stage, Gaëlle Buswel runs an energic, acoustic show with her musicians. Their gear is made up with electro-acoustic guitars and percussions. But Gaëlle's main asset should be her incredible voice. All these ingredients, added to a large bunch of very good, efficient songs of her own, catch up and lead the audience to a tremendous show. Besides her strong stage experience, Gaëlle Buswel is also a songwriter. And stage is the ideal place for her to put her songs forward and bring them to the audience in an strong, moving and authentic way. The acoustic setup of the band allows then a sort of closer, intimistic relation towards the audience. Gaëlle plays music mingling various genres such as folk, blues or pop, which is perfectly carried out with an acoustic combo. The studio arrangements on her album are acoustic already, but Gaëlle Buswel's original songs have got somewhat a second life on stage. And this is the key of a great show. Gaëlle and her band bring live, revisited versions of the original songs to the ones who have already got the album, and take the newcomers on a journey to discover her musical world.

From left to right : Michaal Benjelloun, Jimmy Montout, Gaëlle Buswel and William Atzel

Gaëlle Buswel's incredible voice is the cornerstone of her talent. It mixes up a large range of musical tones along with power, bluesy feel or smooth emotion. It is no doubt Gaëlle is definitely a great singer. But her voice isn't her only skill to perform her songs. Most of the time, she strums her guitar while singing – but you shouldn't think she would only strum simple chord patterns. She has actually got a good rhythm guitar play, with a strong technique on both left and right hands, which should be the result of a lot of serious practice on this instrument, but also a long-time gigging experience. If she had been alone, it should have made no big difference : she would have preformed a great show as well. And then, what a delight for such a good performer to be surrounded by good musicians. Guitarists Michaal Benjelloun and William Atzel are the perfect pair to match with Gaëlle's artistic skills. They both alternately play secondary rhythm and solo parts, showing a strong, accurate technique. But technique is not enough to be good musicians : they also play with a nice, warm feel, whether they perform rhythm or lead lines. And of course, the whole ensemble is reinforced by the 4th man, percussionist Jimmy Montout, who really brings depth to the live arrangements of Gaëlle's song.

Yet, good orignal songs and musical abilities aren't enough. Indeed, Gaëlle Buswel has much more to provide inorder to run a big show and make the difference : charisma, entertainment and emotion. During the gig, there's no time to fall asleep or get lost in thoughts. Gaëlle is a true, charismatic entertainer who really catches your attention. She is not only a pretty lady, but also a nice, genuine person whose purpose is to reach out and share her music. This will of sharing does prevail and each spectator can then feel it through the aura she brings out. It feels like Gaëlle takes time to look at each one attending her show right in the eyes, and address each spectator personnally, for a momentary tête à tête. And no-one is spared then, whether you are sitting right before the stage or standing far away, nearby the exit door, you will feel concerned.This is how Gaëlle's magic operates to make you feel close to her through her music and enter her world.

All Gaëlle Buswel's qualities for entertainment are then brilliantly combined with a good, efficient set of songs to be performed live. Most of the playlist is made up with songs of hers from her album, Yesterday's Shadow. Thus, as the first notes are played and the first chords strummed, she takes the audience to her world. Gaëlle's songs are pretty well written, and the arrangements for a live performance show that adapting to a stage layout isn't a problem for her. And this also prooves that she is first a stage artist, with a pack of good, original songs in her gigbag. The live combo comprising 3 acoustic guitars and percussions could look like a kind of rough, minimalist set of instruments, compared to the studio arrangements featuring on the CD. Actually, it enables her and her musicians to revisit the songs in a very efficient and authentic way. And then the audience can feel closer to them, like a homecoming. 3 acoustic guitars also provide a bright, genuine sound, putting the spectators away from any sophistication. Nothing looks or sounds artificial, people can get into Gaëlle's world without any suspicion about what to expect. Mission complete, the game is won and the show is on! Through her songs, Gaëlle Buswel will then perform and share various styles and moods, such as energic country-blues with Wild Girl, hot groove with Fever or deep emotion with Yesterday's Shadow or Little Sushine for instance. And, for the rest of the playlist... go and cheer for her!

Feeling home, with no distance between you and her on stage should be another trademark of Gaëlle Buswel's, definitely. Beyond good songs and performance, she reaches out for the audience, inviting people to contribute and sing along with her. Some could think it's a classic of entertainment for a singer. Maybe, but with Gaëlle Buswel, it is not fake at all : she does this way just because she does want to share her music with people around. It is definately not a one-way show, it'd rather be a sort of musical dialogue between an artist and the audience attending. After all, that's what music is all about, isn't it?





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Thanks to Gaëlle, Michaal, William and Jimmy for their awsome gig, and for taking a little bit of their time to have a talk after the show. See you again for sure someday, somewhere!

And thanks also to Mathilde Lacazette for allowing me to illustrate this article with a few photos of hers.

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