Article first published as Music Review: Ivy Quainoo – Ivy on Blogcritics.

On February 10 of this year, Ivy Quainoo became the winner of the first season of The Voice of Germany. This casting show is split in three parts: blind auditions, battles, as well as solo performances and duets with renowned singers. Four coaches, all experienced and recording artists, have to decide in about one minute if they want the candidate on their team or not, just by listening to them as they are facing away from them. Born in Berlin to parents originally from Ghana, 20-year-old Quainoo auditioned and got to choose her coach, as Xavier Naidoo, The BossHoss (featuring two band members as one coach), Nena, and Rea Garvey all wanted her on their teams. The singer went for The BossHoss, as she declared that two coaches were better than one.

On the night of the finale, Quainoo performed “Do You Like What You See”, a track with a James Bond theme feel, perfect for her velvety and sensual voice. She later on joined Florence & The Machine on stage for a phenomenal rendition of “Shake It Out”. That evening, the singer received 33.65% of the combined votes (phone voting plus number of song downloads), a well-deserved victory.

She went straight from stage to studio to record her debut album, soberly entitled Ivy, which was released in March. It, of course, contains “Do You Like What You See”, which was the first single. The second single, “You Got Me”, makes you actually forget how young Quainoo is. When she sings: “Because we all fall for beautiful lies/From the sweet hello to the bitter goodbye”, this is a woman who has experienced love and betrayal.

Her soul-inspired album was not surprisingly given a pop direction, and Quainoo’s unmistakable voice manages to give interest to the less accomplished pieces. She excels in all 14 songs, effortlessly it seems, from the heartbreaking ballad “Break Away” to various cover versions such as “Shark In The Water” (VV Brown), “Soul Suckers” (Amos Lee) and “You Can’t Put a Price on Love ” (The Knack). The duet with Florence & The Machine is also included, as well as one with The BossHoss, an interesting take on “I Say A Little Prayer” (originally released by Dionne Warwick) where the pleasure the three artists have singing together is totally apparent.

The BossHoss said when commenting on her audition: “This is the voice of Germany right here”. Since casting shows seldom crown a real artist who can actually sing, Ivy Quainoo’s first album is a very pleasant surprise. As it was recorded in eight days and mixed and produced within a further two weeks, the time span was too short for the young artist to come up with self-written songs. It will now be interesting to see what she can do when given more space and freedom, and if she is here to stay.