The (to me) unknown singer Grace Victoria came in the first week of the new year with a new album. Under the title “Love & Justice”, the mysterious singer-songwriter presents an album that invites you to listen several times. A first surprise in 2022.
A search on the internet doesn’t teach us much about the singer, other than that she is from Virginia, and has moved to New York because of her musical ambitions. So far she has released five digital singles that have not caused a lot of controversy, but are certainly worth listening to. She has no website, no bandcamp page, no facebook, nothing. There is only one instagram account under the name gracevic.tor.ia that does not contain a lot of information.
Nice actually, because then you can’t rely on more than the music. The album has 12 songs and sounds very open and well mixed. Grace Victoria cannot be pushed into a corner, but the music can generally be characterized as a singer/songwriter. Soberly accompanied by guitar and/or piano, some tracks are extensively arranged and sound R&B with a good dose of blues and soul.
Grace has a very fine voice. A nice hoarse edge, bluesy and soulful. From time to time her bluesy voice evokes memories of Tanita Tikaram’s, but also of Alicia Keys when she is more absorbed in the soul idiom.
Album opener “Down in Virginia” is a wonderful bluesy bossa nova, nice with doubled vocals and a lovely hammond organ under the acoustic guitar. It’s here that the link to Tanita Tikaram can be made right away, and it’s a track that definitely makes you curious about the rest of the album.
“Black looks better on me” is a wonderfully contemporary track, set to a groovy beat. Again those fresh beautiful vocals that are very smooth. Grace has a large range that she uses effortlessly. This song brings up the first association in which Grace sounds like a female version of Shawn Mendes.
“Guilty” is the highlight of this album in my opinion. Beautifully sung, with a very nice arrangement, starting on guitar, but then moving into an Alicia Keys-like piano accompaniment with an upright bass. The timbre of her beautiful bluesy voice colors magnificently with the sober accompaniment. Goosebumps.
Then Grace serves up a pure Shawn Mendes pastiche with “Let me tell you” that is more than once reminiscent of his hit “Senorita”. However, this song is more fun and better.
“Love & Justice” has become a very good album. A debut by an unknown independent artist who clearly has not had much luck with her marketing and promotion. There is not a single boring or bad song on it. This album will go down in the flood of 2022 releases, but the album deserves to be heard. Grace Victoria deserves to be known to a wide audience. Major record companies that are reading along, pay attention and do something! (8/10) (Skyline records)
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