Write Like A Girl: Vic Allen, Beth Keeping, Emily Faye with guests Sue McMillan & Lisa Wright -
The "Write Like A Girl" tour has successfully travelled around the UK, championing female songwriting and performing, pulling in additional guests at each stop to show the wealth of talent currently working in the circuit at the moment. The show is performed as a Songwriters round with each guest joining the main three for three rounds.
Tonights first words of praise have to go the choice of venue, St Mary's Church gave us a level of grandeur that many a concert venue would aspire to, with its high ceiling. The light inside was beautiful, and there was even a drum kit to the far side of the stage housed within perspex screens superfluous for this evening but indicative of the type of show this venue could house. The stage is dressed with faux candles and fairy lights giving a feel of intimacy in what was quite a large space.
Of our three main artistes, Vic Allen, a firm #TEAMw21 favourite since her show at last years Buckle & Boots festival is dressed in shorts and a T shirt and is generally buzzing around greeting fans and selling merchandise prior to the start, Beth Keeping hot on the heels of her new EP being released is setting up her phone for a live broadcast of the evenings events. Finally Emily Faye is also greeting the audience wandering around barefoot. In the background a distinctly female playlist plays out over the PA highlighting once again the level of talent out there and also providing a taster should anyone wish to later purchase a cd.
It is eventually Vic who starts off the evening,settling everyone in with an unreleased song "Barcelona", managing to hold her nerve despite a loose cable occasionally causing her sound to cut out. The only thing predictable about Vic is her unpredictability, there is no way of knowing if this song when it emerges will be backed by a string quartet or a powerpop band so a chance to see from where she starts is fascinating. Each of the performers brings something to the party, Beth Keeping up next, is probably the more traditional singer songwriter of the three. She chooses to open with a song from the new EP, "Strangers In The Same City" which is also her current single is an uptempo pop song about the perils of bumping into an ex and she is able to inject some additional drama by stopping playing her guitar to emphasize the lines "I'm scared that I will see you, I'm scared that I won't". Emily Faye is probably the more natural country leaning artist of the three and her Round One contribution is "Open Road", her single from earlier in the year. It is perhaps slightly speeded up tonight which only adds to the summery feel of the song making it really bounce along. The chorus as ever is quite infectious and is added to by Vic Allen providing addition backing vocals. It is always enjoyable seeing Songwriters perform who are perhaps not used to being under the spotlight, Sue McMillan says as much in her introduction that she is far more used to being in a room than on stage. Her song "They Can't All Be Crazy" is an absolute hoot and laugh out loud funny, even finding time to pay tribute to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic". She may claim to not be a natural perform but she still managed to elicit the first bit of audience participation of the evening with a singalong.!
Round Two once again starts with Vic, recalling her 2 months in a job she hated. "I Don't Want To Waste Mine" had a wonderfully hypnotic feel to it. Beth returned to her EP for "Naked", providing her own percussion by tapping her guitar on the chorus as she captured perfectly that feeling of being vulnerable. Emily Faye played "Broken", again initially sounding more naturally country in outlook, it came prebuilt with it's own audience call out section. Sue closed the round with a song co written with another #TEAMw21 favourite Joe Martin, "Hurricane". Sue's version was quite splendid even in this stripped back bare format it sounded a "big" song ideally suited for Joe's voice.
Round Three opened with Vic playing a song "I Can't" written immediately in the aftermath of a four hour break up call ending a 10 month relationship. It retains the raw emotions associated with that and is likely to be a highlight of her debut album when it appears, an excellent song if born out of somewhat unfortunate circumstances. Beth's next song was co written with another #TEAMw21 favourite Lauren Ray who happened to also be in the audience, "Flashbacks" was another piece of top quality songwriting displaying it's pop sensibilities on its sleeve. Not sure whether it will be Lauren or Beth who eventually makes a recording of it, it seems ideally suited for both. Sue's final song for the evening was also a co write, this time with Jade Heliwell, "Boom Tick" is on her latest EP and it was a great piece of uptempo pop to end the first half.
A short 15 minute break gave a chance to swap out Sue for the lady of the moment Lisa Wright, hot footing it from her own successful EP launch the previous night. Few artists can sustain being seen repeatedly in a short space of time, Lisa thankfully is not one of those and although beforehand it did seem that the only new thing we might have to report on was the fact that this time she was sitting down, it was soon apparent there was more to observe. Starting with "Giving Up The Ghost" each performance of this song seems slightly different with Lisa each time able to eek out every ounce of emotion by just slightly holding off on a word. It does make her quite an intense and compelling performer to watch.
With the performing order reversed for the second half of the evening ,it was now Emily's turn next and she pulled out her most considered song yet. "Me For Me" was slightly more subdued and she too was able to build up her performance by varying her expression and her positioning in front of the microphone. Beth Keeping's next song was an interesting co write in that is was with an artist from Singapore, Ming Bridges who has a support slot with Niall Horan coming up soon. It once again showed Beth to have a keen ear for a catchy chorus. Vic Allen was to close the round with her newest song "Give Up", something she assures us she has no intention of doing!
Round Five saw Lisa Wright return to her latest EP for the title track, "Mind Of Mine", as with her earlier song, a slight change in emphasis on the phrase "world on my shoulders" is enough to make the performance different. Emily's next song " A Thicker Skin" about dealing with praise or criticism saw both Beth and Vic join in on backing vocals as well as the audience and as she was playing without her band Emily did a vocal approximation of how the guitar solo would sound! Beth Keeping's next song was co written with a lady called Jan Buckingham who at 70 still writes 3 songs day! while Vic was to impress with a tale of falling in love in a McDonalds car park which sounded like it could well emerge as an uptempo piece of power pop.
The final Round was to prove to be just two songs, Lisa Wright once again returned to her excellent new EP for the current single "Tennessee", while the final song of the night was to see all of the Write Like A Girl team combine on a song from Beth's EP "No Hard Feelings", it came with a truly shocking introduction of just how cruel people can be. Each of the WLAG played a part and when they came to the end and sung three part harmonies it was truly something special. The whole evening, indeed the whole tour by the sound of it had been a delight so much so that it may well be reprised later in the year and will be well worth your support if it does.
Emily Faye's new EP "Here I Am" is available now
Beth Keeping's new EP "Fool" is available now and will supporting Glen Mitchell & SaraBeth at the Water Rats
Vic Allen's latest EP "Between The Lines" is also available now
Lisa Wright's EP Mind Of Mine is available now and she will also be supporting Eric Paslay on his UK tour dates
Sue McMillan's co write "Boom Tick" can be found on Jade Helliwell's "Infatuation" EP