Stumbling in on this show is like discovering a bizarre yet dazzling gem in the back of a thrift shop. Jet Black Pearl performed by Jetty Swart is the most eccentric and equally the most talented woman you will see in Edinburgh this month. In her handmade skirt of ties sewed together, she leaps on-stage with a mischievous glint in her eye and Antonio, her beloved accordion. She beat-boxes, she plays the accordion and flute, she sings, she impersonates animals, and she will undoubtedly win your heart. Coloured richly by her frequent travelling, she has the carefree spirit of a traveller and will take you away with her for an hour into the world of her varied and surreal imagination.
Swart's songs are as abstract as they come, sexual slugs, people with butterflies for hands, anything you can imagine and mostly things that you can't. She records various sounds on her loop pedal and creates multi-layered cacophonies of vocal effects and harmonies whilst she sings her melodies over the top. She sings in english, french, and even a bit of dutch. A truly astounding and individual performer, the likes of which you will not have seen before.
The most striking feature of Swart's performance is her infectious enthusiasm for life; she is utterly impassioned and is clearly delighted to be on stage. Her voice has an extensive range, and she swoops between octaves with ease and technical excellence. Although on the surface her songs appear to be playful, there is a real sincerity and warmth to the messages she conveys. Her song about travelling is exceptionally touching, as Swart howls out 'Wherever I am, I'm always leaving,' there is a deep melancholia hanging in the air.
This certainly isn't for everyone, as Swart's unique performance style is a little inaccessible. She is uncompromising, and will scream and shriek around the stage with gusto. However, this is a really different experience from a cabaret act and Jet Black Pearl is an extremely talented performer. Well worth an hour of your time and a large chunk of your heart as well.