I’ve been championing Zoë Bestel since I first came across her at The Wickerman Festival in 2012 when I wrote a review of the festival for another website. To be honest, I dropped lucky. Someone came bounding over on the very first morning of the festival and thrust a leaflet in my hand promoting Zoë’s show whilst raving about her ukulele playing. My ears instinctively pricked up hearing that magic word and I made sure I caught the show. She was excellent…
My up and coming find of the festival was a 14 year old by the name of Zoë Bestel. Zoë was first up in a pretty busy acoustic tent and she completely held the audience with a really great voice, some great songs and some pretty decent ukulele playing to boot. She certainly has that modern female singer-songwriter feel about her that seems to be everywhere at the moment, but she manages to make it her own, take the genre in her own direction and stick her neck out above the crowded stream. I think what impressed me more than anything was her confidence. So young yet so commanding, I’ll wager anyone this young lady will go very very far.
And so to the debut album that came out almost two years later in 2014 entitled “Sir Lucas And The Moon“. Well it’s a collection of original songs that can only be described as beautiful. Zoë’s voice is really something rather special. It’s gentle, heartfelt, compassionate, delicate yet commanding and instils honest passion into her music.
Zoë puts me in mind of Cat Goscovitch who wowed me in a TV performance in the 90’s with a track called “Sticky” (she went under the moniker “Nut” back then). Her singing was so full of powerful subtlety, backed by a simple acoustic guitar, that I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. And Zoë has that same talent of a completely gripping vocal delivery that gives each word a depth of intrigue and meaning through a warm-hearted accented consonant or breathy afterthought. This is most prevalent in “Butterflies”, my very favourite track on the album.
And let us not forgot about the ukulele, for that’s why we’re all here! Well simplest to say her vocal talents are equally matched by her ukulele playing. Zoë has a delicate style that perfectly accompanies her voice whether picking arpeggios or playing a creative rhythmic riff. She has a knack of knowing exactly where to leave a gap to let a vocal note hold or indeed when to rest the voice to bring up the ukulele riff slightly to add another level of warmth to a song.
Every track on this album is expertly written and performed and the orchestration is always gentle yet bursting with spirit. It truly is amazing someone so young is so accomplished, comfortable and masterful of their method. Zoë has made great waves in the UK uke and nu-folk scenes and if for some crazy reason her talents haven’t pinged on your radar then buy yourself a new radar immediately and get yourself a copy of “Sir Lucas And The Moon” while you’re at it. It’s fabulous.
Hasten yourself to the Zoë Bestel website for all info you need and treat yourself to the album. You can also stream, buy or download it from the usual suspects but I’d urge you towards buying direct if you can.