Jen Awad’s EP Release Party For ‘Love Is Dead’ At Yes Creative Studio, Saturday May 19th 2018
Jen Awad may be petite but she commands the stage like a giant, putting everything on fire as soon as she starts to sing her powerful anthems. The half Egyptian/half Peruvian L.A. native is known in town for her eccentric and rocking fashion style (she is actually a fashion designer) but she is also one of the 50 musicians who played at the recent local festival, Broke LA. This is where I saw her for the first time, but on Saturday night, she had a release party for her new EP ‘Love Is Dead’ at Yes Creative Studio, and her performance confirmed my first impression: she has a natural stage presence with songs that immediately sound like classics. Timeless is a term that have been used to described her music, and since the revival of old school R&B and soul, Awad should shine on the scene,… as someone like Amy Winehouse did before. Although she looks and acts very differently from the British singer, Awad certainly has the restless stage presence of a rock star and the pipes of a soul diva. If her voice has even compared to Etta James’, her vocals sounded bluesier with a touch of modernity.
In any case, Jen Awad sees big, at the image of her poignant and larger-than-life songs, such as ‘Love Is Dead’, ‘Break a Man’, ‘Thirsty’, and an older one ‘Night’, she performed with a 7-8 piece band, surrounded by guitars, keyboards, saxophones and back up singers and nothing could tame the bombast of her wide-screen interpretations, which are resonated like homage to a glorious past, with a bolder and contemporaneous edge.
She arrived on stage draped in a black coat with the heavy sunglasses of a movie star, but she soon continued the show in a tight short dress, moving like a tigress, and spiting her guts before foot-tapping the song in a restless abandon. She sings about heartbreaks with a powerful yearning in the vocals, but she can get more intimate and melancholic during a song like ‘Waves of Depression’, in an admittance of bad times.
‘We are gonna start with some sad songs and then we are gonna get really happy’, she said after ‘Break a Man’. But the idea of true happiness only came during the gutsy crowd pleaser ‘Basic Bitch’, and during her funky disco dance floor ‘Shackle Up’, as she sang with her velvet voice, ‘I wanna be your slave’. She produced the song with her percussionist Travis Bunn, and the track also features Mark Batson, who has worked with a myriad of big shots in the music industry, from Alicia Keys to Jay Z, Dave Matthews Band, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent… which shows her powerhouse already got noticed in high places.
Gut-wrenching songs about heartaches can be transformed into powerfully emotional anthems or euphoric triumphs, and this seems to be Jen Awad’s mission, the transforming pain-to-pleasure experience, for everyone’s greatest happiness.