Discovering a new artist is almost always a good experience, but it's always better when that discovery is made at a live performance. Before this weekend, I'd never heard of Juan Zelada and had wandered into the Big Top at Play Fest 2012 to escape the weather outside. And what a good move that turned out to be...
Zelada hails from Madrid but has been gradually making a name for himself in this country for a couple of years now (even if his name is occasionally misread: “I've been called John Salad before now...”). His bluesy, folky pop has already gained the attention of several at Radio 2 and he has a number of festival slots set for this summer, and after even just a few minutes of listening, this is no surprise.
There's something reminiscent of Counting Crows' in some of his music, at least when at their least morose. For while some of Zelada's lyrics are perhaps a little wistful, the overall effect is almost exclusively sunny. It really is impossible to come away without a smile on your face. His stage presence is charismatic and when combined with his and his band's spirited performance, the result is truly infectious.
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