It’s a rare talent, what Swedish-Gambian popstar, Seinabo Sey, has. A masterfully powerful voice, a predisposition for soulful pop and a whole lot of humility make for a performer you cannot take your eyes (or ears) off.

Having just kicked off her tour in front of 8,000 people at Stockholm’s enormous Ericsson Globe, it must feel strange to her (and her fantastic five-piece band) to be performing in a tiny basement at the Courtyard tonight, but if it does she never lets it show. She flashes her charming, warm smile at every turn and engages with the audience between each song – and it’s often hilarious. She is funny!

Things kick off with ‘Pretend’, the title-track from Sey’s debut album. “All turned out as great as it could, knock on wood / Things are going just as they should, knock on wood” she sings and it’s instantly clear that the audience needs no warming up. Chanting along, people in the crowd are dancing from the outset and the mood for the coming hour is fixed. ‘Pretend’ is followed up by another fan-favourite, one of Sey’s biggest hits, ‘Hard Time’. With a huge chorus and powerhouse vocal, ‘Hard Time’ sounds like it is shaking the entire building.

When Sey then slows things down for a moving cover version of Nina Simone’s ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, her vocal trills hold the audience transfixed. She is able to grab one with the lowest of bass notes and then the next moment hit the highest of highs of gorgeous falsetto. You may mistakenly take this ballad as the introducer of a more down-tempo section of the show but Sey doesn’t let the lull on the bangers front last for too long, as recent hit single ‘I Owe You Nothing’ comes in to pick things up again. It’s one of 2018’s best singles and made for a perfect “comeback” offering when Sey released it back in March after what felt like a long hiatus. She tells the audience that her recent album, I’m A Dream, took 18 months to make and thanks us for waiting patiently for her return.

Another example of the wonderful interplay between Sey’s low and high vocal notes is her performance of ‘Remember’, released at the same time as ‘I Owe You Nothing’ earlier this year. On the studio version Sey duets with Jacob Banks and, in his absence tonight, Sey performs his parts beautifully. It is a definite highlight in the show, as is ‘Never Get Used To’, a song Sey wrote about her father, Maudo, who died a few years back. She tells the audience she’d give anything to have the chance to talk to him again and the lyrics offer the most touching tribute to a man who played a significant role in her life: “I sing because you told me to and then I stop because I sound just like you / I speak the way you taught me to and then I scream because I can't speak to you”.

At the same time, Sey is able to balance the sadness of the loss of her father with humour, as she recalls how before Maudo passed away she managed to play him one of the first songs she had recorded. She speaks of when he suffered a stroke in Gambia and she flew to see him, playing him ‘Younger’ (possibly her most famous track), having just finished recording it. She tells the audience that her dad loved reggae music and, therefore, she thinks he probably found ‘Younger’ to be a bit “too pop”. She then laughs cheekily and suggests that it was fine, though, because the stroke left him unable to speak so he just nodded and smiled, which is the takeaway she prefers to remember from that interaction. Sey’s love and admiration of her father is particularly poignant when one is reminded that the name Seinabo is derived from the name ‘Zaynab’, which in Arabic means "a father's precious jewel".

After superb live renditions of recent tracks ‘Breathe’ and ‘Good In You’, Sey brings proceedings to a close with a beautiful take on the final track on I’m A Dream. ‘Hold Me As I Land’, finds her and fellow vocalist, Daniela Sörensen (who gives stunning backing performances throughout the evening) drive the goose bumps levels to maximum, as the refrain “I had to give myself away” resounds in all corners of the room. Sey describes the track as one of the ‘soulful’ compositions on the record and tells us that’s what she wants to do more of: writing soulful songs.

We will be here to listen to them again and again.