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London W1 The Social

Even the most minimalistic songs are padded out with delicate, icy choruses and an equally angelic-sounding backing singer...

London W1 The Social

Even beauty can be tarnished. No matter how heavenly Dot Allison's voice becomes tonight, there's always something more distracting, more earthly to tear our attention away from her sweetness. You want to lose yourself in her sultry tones and forget about the grittier details. But with drunken suited men all around and a toilet that requires everyone to actually cross the stage to reach it, that's just impossible.

If anyone stands a chance of retaining their dignity in such unfavourable surroundings, it's Dot. Previously the voice of One Dove, her solo offerings are more refined. They're the soundtrack of the chill-out room rather than the dancefloor - blissfully cool, calm and slightly fuzzy round the edges. Even the pulsing undercurrent of her recent records is softened by this evening's all-acoustic renditions.

Such a set-up is perfect for moments like 'Tomorrow Never Comes', a gorgeous translucent exploration of a vocal range that's almost choral in its purity. Even the most minimalistic songs are padded out with delicate, icy choruses and an equally angelic-sounding backing singer, hazily reminiscent of the early folk offerings of Everything But The Girl, but much sturdier and sassier.

Ignoring all that goes on around her, Dot shuts her eyes and sings on. The adverse setting only emphasises her songs' gorgeous fragility and their admirable refusal to toughen up and live in the real world. After tonight, you can hardly blame them.

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