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Steve Young, Simon James, Hannah White, Ian Ingles, Liv Austen, Isabella Coulstock, Orfila - Maidsto

Pizza Express are cropping up quite a bit recently as a live music destination, so when you’re presented with a bill of 7 acts and all proceeds for a good cause it was an opportunity too good to miss. In a rather cramped venue, and with food being served throughout, this could have proved a distraction to the main event. Thankfully the staff and diners were respectful of the artists and with our pizzas ordered the first 3 acts took to the stage for a Songwriter’s Round.

Steve Young opened the with “Truth in Life”. The jangly guitar had a folky sound to it and this was good upbeat song about never letting life pass you by. Simon James was next in the round and was suffering from a cold (so much so that he’d had to cancel a gig the night before) and as a result had opted for songs that were, in his words, “Easy to sing”. In a time when you see your friends around you going through life crises and divorce, his song “Better Days” is a heartfelt plea to return to those titular ‘better days’. Hannah White was the final round of this group and opened with a story of her dad. “My Father” tells of the strong views of her Thatcherite dad and how he spent his time while in prison. This song also had a folk appeal and, if you’re looking for it, you won’t find it on her album!

Steve opened up round two with the news that his latest album has just met its Pledge Music target and proceeded to play “Guilty By My Eyes” which will be on it! This song has a good beat and steady rhythm. Simon’s second song was one of the reasons I enjoy these Songwriter’s rounds so much. Opting to play a brand new song is always a risky option, but it often gives the audience the chance to give an early verdict. “Waterfall” is the story of a son who leaves home and the mission to find him. With a determined country beat and great lyrics this is a song that asks questions and is well worth a listen! For Hannah’s second song she opted for a cover of the staple “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, with the addition of extra guitar (and a solo) from Simon and backing vocals from Steve, a true collaboration before the song morphed into “I’ll Fly Away” to close.

Steve's final song had some very clever lyrics and proves that you don’t need to go to Nashville to write a country song, as this one was written in Welwyn Garden City! “Back to Mine” was a good closer from Steve and left you wanting to hear more of his music. Simon’s last song was about his parents, their move to Spain and ’avin’ it large! “When the Summer Ends” has some fast guitar work and was a good upbeat finish. Hannah’s song came from her latest album “Elephant Eye” and offered another chance for collaboration, with Simon joining in on harmony. “I See Sky” was a nice way to end the round and also heralded the arrival the main course!

Before too long the second set of singers took the stage and with no preamble Ian Ingles dived straight in to his first song. I imagine it’s titled “I Believe in You” as that line was repeated several times throughout the song. Long-time #TEAMw21 favourite Liv Austen was next in line, ably accompanied by John on guitar, “Miss Nobody” is a song with attitude to spare and with Liv’s clear delivery and a hushed atmosphere made for an impressive start! Completing the round was Isabella Coulstock. With a deep voice belying her young age and with a good strong guitar background “Nice Ain't A Good Colour”. was a great opening from her.

Round 2 started with Ian commenting on some ‘nightmare’ women before his upbeat/rock-ish song “Be With Me”. The second song from Liv was a much slower song and featured John in duet. “Whole Heart” is a beautiful love song and I’m sure will be a single contender in the very near future. Keeping things slowed down was Isabella’s second song “You Know You’re Better Than That”. With a soulful and clear delivery this also proved to be a demonstration of her style and panache.

Final tune from Ian was another loud and bright song “Time is Right Today”. Liv’s last song was a brand new one, written with another up and coming artist Kaity Rae. “Window Shopping” is a very cleverly written take on modern dating and focuses on you as a person, and not how you look. I particularly liked the line ‘Don’t care if you’re fit, just if we fit’. This witty and clever use of lyrics is a common theme with both artists. Isabella’s final song was written when she was just 13 and has a sound and feel most artist’s would spend their entire life looking for. “Crazy Cowboy” is a lush, full sounding song that transports you to whatever bar that mentioned cowboy may be sitting at and makes you hope that she will indeed become a big country star!

After another short break it was time for the headline act to take the stage. Family group Orfila with vocals/tambourine, guitar and cajon were here to entertain us by ‘singing a bit of country’! Opening with a ‘sing-along’ version of “Boondocks” complete with requisite harmonies it was clear that they are an accomplished group and confident in their sound and style. Keeping it upbeat with second song “Hit the Ground Running” from their second album, also including a 3-part harmony. The third song heralded a change of pace with “Reaching Out To You” slowing things down and each of the group taking a turn at the vocals. This song is available on their new EP. Picking up the pace again we had a song called “Fine Tooth Comb” along with a little bit of a story to accompany it. Orfila’s next single is out this month and “Raise a Glass” is clearly a song with a distinct message, ‘Heaven’s Gained An angel’. As we built to a close we were treated to their current single “Snow, Rain & Hurricane” a faster song with a loud and full sound before the final song of the night which allowed everyone to join in the chorus of “Fat Bottom Girls”

A big thank you to James Vince for organising the evening on behalf of Anxiety UK, and for the artists for giving up their time to perform. A thoroughly enjoyable evening and all for a good cause!



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