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Fresh Face: Ionie a splash at Rockwood Music Hall

Ionie and band perform at Rockwood Music Hall
Ionie and band perform at Rockwood Music Hall
Kelly Koenig

Young, fresh-faced and full of soul, Ionie took the stage at Rockwood Music Hall just as the sun started setting on Saturday night, May 17. What should an audience expect at a free show in New York City? Quite a bit, it turns out. Ionie made the stage her home for that hour, alternating between sexy soul grooves and wistful tunes. Original and fresh tunes and lyrics made each number something new to discover. Lyrics like "I was expecting chocolate on my tongue" combined with Ionie's soul and vocal flexibility to lure in even the most casual listeners in the audience.

Ionie proved she had a lot more to offer than the three songs on her recent EP. By the time she and the band got to their second number “Hot October”, things were indeed getting hot as hell. Reminiscent of Adele or Selah Sue, Ionie's music gets a little more hot and heavy with lush support from bass, drums, guitar and keyboard. Bassist Ray Cetta was a great accompaniment throughout the song, really grooving in numbers like “Swallowin” and “Don't Miss the Train”. Guitarist Keisuke Matsuno wowed the audience with a frantically moving pick solo during "Tower of London".

Although the orchestrations were sometimes a little too thick, the ensemble overall sounded strong and provided a great backup for Ionie's soulful voice. Moments of quiet were cut dramatically with driving melody and an occasional moment of bump and grind edginess. Ionie has a an ability to cut between strong, sultry soul and quiet introspective moments within the same song, lending her music presence and drama.

It takes a great deal to get ahead in this business. A lot of time, hard work, talent, and money are needed to succeed. Ionie has that ephemeral 'stuff ', the heart and soul that makes an artist entertaining and relateable. Find her on her website, bandcamp, twitter and facebook.