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Country Music Week Day 6 - Daytime Hub with Jake Morrell, Lainey Wilson, Sarah Darling & Keywest

The Daytime Hubs are a curious if welcome addition to Country Music Week, there are 30 minute showcases, followed by a fairly short anodine interview followed by a Meet & Greet in a relaxed atmosphere. The blend of artists is also a nice mix, covering the spectrum and therefore providing something for everybody.

Our second meeting with Jake at the same venue in just over a week, and this time he brought a band. Still looking and sounding like a young Michael McIntyre with almost a routine about how it was still morning despite being the afternoon, he got things off to a cracking start with "Heading For Heartache". The addition of Laura Suess on keyboards and the inventive drumming of Chris Brice really lifted things to another level entirely.

Next up was "Wire and Thorns! or as Jake puts it "the song that got him here!" continuing the impressive country rock mood of the day. There was a return to solo playing for "Half Your Heart", about his parents, and even this was lifted by the addition of some subtle backing vocals from Laura. My personal favourite of a great set, was the Emily Faye co write of "Long Way Round" a glorious piece of superior pop music even complete with its own clapalong section. The run of excellent tunes continued with "Kindness" with the drums and organ really standing out.

An example of the great humour provided by Jake came with "Englishman" which details his journey and the lack of need to go to Nashville to make a country song, as it turned out the shortly after releasing the song he did indeed go to Nashville - "turns out I did need to go!" he quipped. The final song of the 8 song set was to be his next single "Home" due out on the 18th January, it was immediately engaging and came with a singalong section.

Jake has a headline slot at The Slaughtered Lamb on November 14th with O&O as well as UK tour dates with the Worry Dolls.

With just one UK show under her belt, with Chase RIce earlier in the week, Lainey WIlson has already secured a place in our hearts. Hailing from Louisiana, she has been struck by how the UK audiences listen as much as we have been fascinated by her songs with a mix of sassiness and honesty all kept very "real" in the lyrics. Taking to the stage, she immediately started some powerful acoustic strumming, leading into "Workin' Overtime" delivering on all the promise that her recent EP promised. She may not have had the band backing her up but she was still able to demand everyones attention. That Louisiana drawl comes through in her singing voice as well as in her her hilarious song introductions, "Rolling Stone" forinstance being about how she had to "kick his butt to the kerb" when describing her boyfriend of seven years!.

As at Bush Hall it was a song about growing up that stood out, "2 Story House" plays on the word story (slightly ruined by the fact that the English spelling has an extra e), with it both reflecting on the house as well as how the inhabitants, Lainey and her sister, had grown up to be so different. She puts it best lyrically "She can never leave, I can never go back" - excellent stuff. A criminally short set closed by sandwiching the exquisite "Dreamcatcher" with a beautifully sustained last note making her "break out in a sweat", between two pieces of in your face country, "Middle Finger" and "Waste Of Good Whiskey" where she had a habit of gradually stepping back from the microphone before then taking a giant step back to resume singing. Hopefully she'll be back for C2C 2019, and if she does don't be surprised if she makes another giant leap into the hearts of the UK audience.

No such leap required for Sarah Darling who is safely ensconced in the hearts of her UK fans to the degree that with an English husband we've almost adopted her as one of her own. Having seen her the previous night this was a double dose of Darling or a second slice of Sarah - either way it was a delight as we got a second chance to absorb some of the material that will make up next years "Wonderland" release.

After last nights illuminated dress, today was more standard affair although topped off with hat which she sported with a certain panache. Second time round also allowed us to catch little snatches of the lyrics of the new material and it was notable how listening to them standing up also seemed to transform them. Sarah's voice as ever was pure and crystal clear and on songs like "Fire" , she took the microphone in hand and was extremely expressive as she sold the song. Standing certainly enhanced the dance vibe of "Enjoy The Ride". Already putting itself forward to be one of the star tracks of "Wonderland" is "Little Bit Of Rain", a cautionary country tale co written with Jenn Bostic, immediately attention grabbing with a chorus you'll find yourself humming the rest of the day. A few nods to "Dream Country" with "Halley's Comet" and "Where Cowboys Ride" which both had audience participation before a roof raising finale of "When You Say Nothing At All"

The Pledge campaign for "Wonderland is already launched and the good news is that there will be a UK tour to look forward to in the spring.

The afternoon was to close with a set from Dublin based Keywest, known in the UK for their appearances at C2C 2018 and the summer show Nashville Meet London at Canada Water. A band of natural good humour and great stage presence opened with the uptempo "The Little Things", their live show a little bit rockier than the version on their "True North" album but none the less enjoyable. The second song is introduced as being about "C'est La Vie" or as they say in Ireland "Feckit!", "Beautiful Fool" as well as being an excellent rocking song contained a drum section where all manners of percussion including bongo's and a cowbell are shared out among the band for what can only be described as an extravaganza of percussion.

The set continued with the lovely back story to "Something Beautiful" which involved falling at love at a festival which was followed by a new song "Ordinary Superhero" and suddenly we were almost in U2 Country!,. the final official song of the set saw the audience divided into two to provide separate harmonies and was great fun. So much did the audience cheer that attempts at an interview had to be abandoned for an additional song - great band - great fun.



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