Never let it be said that Liv Austen is not the hardest working woman in UK country, as well singing she was also checking tickets, selling merchandise and running hospitality, it was small wonder that she wasn’t tweaking the sound and pulling a pint such was the myriad of roles being performed. Set up at relatively short notice, this gathering gave her the chance to air some material from her forthcoming album ahead of her new single being released, as well as a chance share the stage with one of her favourite songwriters and invite another to perform her first ever songwriters round.
The stage was set for round 1, with the artists sat upon exceptionally small stools and with Beth Thornton sat under the bright neon red Slaughtered Lamb sign that meant for most of the night she almost appeared to be in silhouette. Having said how hard working Liv was, she decided to eschew guitar duties for the evening which were mainly handed over to Jon Wright. Opening with what will surely be one of the highlights of her new album, “Same Story” got the evening off to a great start. At the last few rounds that we’ve seen Jeff at he has mentioned writing with The Band Perry, so it was nice to finally get to hear one of those creations in “Postcard From Paris” written with Kimberley from the band. Jeff’s voice slightly huskier than normal if such a thing were possible, but that did not stop him being fabulous company for the evening or attempting a note that even he said, “He had no right to sing” though in the end all was fine. Beth’s first ever songwriters round commenced with a song about her grandparents, “One More Night” which was both touching and an early work out for the vocal chords.
Liv opened the second round with a song co-written with Jess Sharman who is fast becoming the go to lady of UK country, “Train Of Thought” was filled with more train references than you could shake a stick at and more hooks than many a boxing match. This will be another strong song on the album even on only hearing it only once. Jeff’s “Crazy For This Girl” followed and even though we’ve heard this a few times before, in the intimate atmosphere of the Slaughtered Lamb the tune stood out even more than ever. Beth had a great story that accompanied “Get Go” for which Jon added some additional guitar flourishes.
Jon was then deposed from his stool as the first of tonight’s guests Kaity Rae took to the stage to reprise a song she premiered solo last week. “When It Sinks In” possibly lost a little of the intensity by being sung as a duet but it was a lovely performance with Liv taking the first verse and Kaity on the second. Jeff’s story that accompanies “In Her Eyes” we could listen to 100 times and his James Taylor style version fitted the evening perfectly. Beth’s next song “Paris” we recall hearing in the hubbub at C2C 2017 in the Club WM saloon but could not appreciate the words on the day. Tonight, in the hushed room of the Slaughtered Lamb, and with a lovely introduction, the full beauty of the story revealed itself as well as the final pay off line, “We were all there”, one of the highlights of the night.
A slight departure for Liv in Round 4, in that “Whole Heart” seemed to be sung in a slightly lower key than normal, Jeff took on a different Shires song than usual in that he did “1000 Hallelujahs”, while Beth chipped in with “You Make Me Feel Like Wow”, a song written with the power of WhatsApp!! with Jon once again providing some additional guitar. It had the feel of a possible single at some point.
Round five was once again packed with delights. Liv must be please that her audience already know what is required for the new single “The Next Time” another Jess Sharman co write. Jeff then revealed another part of his repertoire, his work with Laura Bell Bundy. He revealed how “Homecoming Queen” had originally been “Homecoming King” before he then handed over vocal duties to Liv while he played guitar for a version sung to perfection. It was time for another special guest in a welcome return for Nikhil D’Souza, with his smokey yet operatic voice for “Still In Love” (with you). Every time he appears you cannot help to be moved by his unique voice. The official show then closed with an upbeat “silly song” from Beth called “Lovers” with its chorus inviting the audience to sing and clap along.
The night was still young and with a bit of encouragement an extra bonus round materialised. Once again another change of pace from Liv with a “made up cheating song” with sassy lyrics and a Deep South feel, “Miss Nobody” was to be another of the songs of the night. Jeff reeled off another hilarious story about how Laura Bell Bundy’s “Giddy On Up Giddy On Out” came into being before performing it complete with rap!. The final song from the evening, a sobering piece of emotionally honest writing from Beth called “On My Own” letting the song tell that story with just a minimal of introduction.
The Songwriters round continues to be an ever growing feature of the UK Country scene and if it repeats nights like tonight then the more the merrier.