WHERE do they all come from? I ask after a fabulous evening at Bassment, Chelmsford listening to three hours by three performers of excellent and original work. Watching TV’s talent offerings you could be forgiven for thinking the majority of ‘talent’ is essentially of the Karaoke variety. Not so, not at all so.
The headliner who drew me there of course was my favourite singer-songwriter of the past decade, Emily Barker and more of her soon. But it would be unfair not to start by praising the support.
First, we had Carousel – five chaps and Sarah. As with most at Bassment they accept the description Americana but don’t let that scare you. The music is mainstream folk/roots with drive like rock, soul like soul and rhythm like rhythm. ‘Tis music my son and sounds good. Carousel are a great example – catch them if you can
Up next was Lisa Wright, a very fine young singer with a strong country style. An Essex lass she writes very much in her own milieu and tells neat anecdotes to place them in her life. Her recent recording session in Nashville thrilled her and neatly presaged what came next.
For the star of the night was Emily Barker who has just released to huge acclaim an album recorded in Memphis with a strong Memphis groove. It marks a further development of her style – and a far cry from some of her early if no less lovely works. My fervour for her biases me of course but what she writes, what she sings, how she sings and how she performs is in the very top drawer. Add to that a very wonderfully winsome way on and off stage and you have, potentially, star quality. Go Emily.
Supported exceptionally well by her talented friend Lucas Drinkwater (his bass makes waves like few others) she started with a bit of a look back via some old(ish) favourites. They benefit greatly it seems to me from the further development of her voice. She told amusingly of youthful days in Oz singing along for hours to Aretha Franklin before learning to “project” (I’d suggest she also learned how to breathe too) and thus save her vocal chords and talents for us. (TV talent shows please note.)
She moved smoothly into some of the new album material, including tribute song Sister Goodbye, the driving lovelorn No 5 Hurricane, melancholy If We Forget to Dance, the Boo Hewerdine influenced leaving home moody, Over My Shoulder and of course the very groovy album title track, Sweet Kind of Blue.
The ‘Wallander’ theme Nostalgia was willingly offered to her fans – most of us present probably found her ten years ago via that very song. Now back to its Melbourne form and with a lot of added overtones, it continues to be a solid showcase of her gifts. Lucas Drinkwater (once again, no doubt) found himself among many now dying in June fields at the hands of his erstwhile lover as the tortured duet Fields of June got its regular airing – it really is a very compelling song, even if most of us feel for the poor guy!
And then as it drew to a close up came Emily’s tour de force – Precious Memories sung akapella to the rafters (low in this case!) – and it was finger clicking good. Actually she and Lucy earlier appeared to find the Bassment room harmonic – a strong soprano in this case. Echoes of The Place in Norwich where Steve Knightly regularly bids (successfully) to hit the tenor harmonic there.
And now here’s the thing – three acts, three hours and all original works sung by hugely talented people. OK, I’d put Emily a head up but this was good company to keep all round. And once again demonstrated that, until you have seen them live in an intimate venue like the Bassment, you know them not. Thanks to all – and special salutations to the Strine now in the UK for nearly half her life; stay, please.
Carousel - on Facebook https://twitter.com/carouselbanduk
Lisa Wright - http://www.lisawrightmusic.com/
Emily Barker - http://www.emilybarker.com/
Bassment - https://www.bassmentbar.com/