Devon Mayson Trio with Emily Faye, Jade Helliwell & Jeannine Barry In The Round - The Islington
Planning a show in Country Music Week on a day when there were at least two other events in town vying for the same audience could have been a disaster so it was great to a large support for a batch of artists from the UK country scene. The first thing that strikes you about the Devon Mayson Trio is that the instrumentation is perhaps not what you would be expecting, with Did on guitar and Juliet Primrose on violin for company, indeed Juliet plays and performs it far too well to call her a fiddle player, her performance was breathtaking at times you could not help but stand and try to appreciate quite how marvelous she was. Devon in addition to playing guitar would also take on some additional instruments in a most entertaining night.
Commencing with the opening track of her debut album, "Lipstick In The Limelight" starts just with a guitar, before long the first piece of strings joins in and by the end Devon herself has also joined in on a second violin to give a full orchestral finale to the song. The second song "Tonight" is revealed to have been written at Uni, and has a chorus delivered with a sumptuous vocal, .while the violin really defined her sound as being unique. There ,ay have been no definite news of a new album yet, however there was an outing for a new song, so new that verse two lay written down on a piece of paper on the floor. Probably called "I Don't Know You At All" it came with an other extraordinary vocal and enough hooks and vocal parts to fill about five songs.
When Devon announced the next song was to be a Beautiful South cover, the mind boggled as to which one it would be, in the end it was no easy choice "I'll Sail This Ship Alone" is one of Paul Heaton's finest moments and not an easy vocal to take on but this was an excellent cover. Another of the many facets of Devon's repertoire was displayed on "Lie To Me" where the chorus always seems so operatic and just to emphasize another style the next song was a Taylor Swift cover of "Sparks Fly".
Never afraid to take on a difficult subject, the next song, so new in that is has 2 working titles one of which "All In A Moment", was exceptionally real, unsurprisingly so as it's inspiration comes from within her family. Dealing with the issue of dementia it was both beautiful and sad and was written and delivered solo with a great deal of sensitivity. The surprises kept on coming "The Sunflower Song" had a dramatic violin section while few can have been expecting Devon to deliver vocals while playing an Irish Lever Harp, where for 3 minutes during "The Parting Glass" you'd have easily been forgiven for thinking she was possessed by an Irish songstress such was the authenticity of the delivery!
In a final salvo that saw everything from a full and furious take on Candi Staton's "You Got The Love" with yet another stunning violin solo through to the still hard to believe "You Only Love When You're Drunk". Once again Devon's ability to deal lyrically with difficult situations was demonstrated with "Fly High" while the final song of the night "No" with its ever infectious chorus saw a final flurry of double fiddle playing!
The evening had begun with an "In The Round" session, with Emily Faye, Jade Helliwell and at very short notice, a last minute replacement in Jeannine Barry. As "In The Rounds" go there was not perhaps the degree of cross pollenation between the artists that can make these events fly but let that not take away from three artists who each brought something distinctly different to the table.
It's been about 12 months since we first saw Emily Faye perform a similar role at the inaugural Corn On The Cob show at Hertford. Since then she's gigged pretty ferociously, including a nationwide tour with the "Write Like A Girl" team that has seen her develop her skills in terms of stage craft and presentation to the point she now exudes confidence. Her first round song, her single "Open Road" come with a delightful array of facial expressions before closing with a little of the rock style vocal we saw at Buckle & Boots this year. For the second round Emily played "Me For Me"with lightly delivered vocals, she revealed that it had come from a songwriting exercise to write a song a day. The third round saw another outing for "Little Bit Of Broken", premiered on the Write Like a Girl tour, it comes complete with it's own call out section and is really engaging while beneath its pop sensibilities it is dealing with the issue that we all have our own little flaws that we need to accept. Her final song "Grow" saw the first piece of audience participation of the night, and you can't help but smile at the confidence as she delivers the line "the only opinion that matters is my own", which she then shows by performing the guitar solo that the song has, verbally as "Doo Doo Doo's" Already cropping up on a number of quality co writes 2019 looks extremely promising for Emily
It's the first time we've seen Jade in a small confined environment, not that it really made too much difference as her delivery was pretty much the same as if outdoors in that it is full on with a force that fills the room. Her opening song "Repeat" came with a fast delivered wordy chorus and the title stretched across seven syllables. The second song, a new one "Give Me A Reason" came with another full on delivery in a song that had again some neat honest writing "He don't deserve to be treated this way - that ain't a reason to stay" - which showed a different angle to a break up song rarely seen. The third song "Numb" already in this raw format sounds like it should be a big production number, while her closing song "Boom Tick" is as catchy a piece of pop music as has been produced this year.
Jeannine chose to slightly challenge the "In The Round" conventions by appearing with not just one additional guitarist but two. She also used the opportunity to reveal four new songs which was a brave thing today but the right move in front of what was clearly a listening audience many of whom would be familiar with her other material. The first "Boys Like You" was very strong, part soul and part rock 'n' roll. Her second "Dreams" saw Jeannine really focusing intently on giving the best possible delivery. Playing with two of the band that served her so well at C2C this year, "After I'm Gone" sounded that it will be quite something with the full band behind it, while her final song "Love Just Hurts" seemed the most complete and immediately accessible of the new songs with a chorus with a number of catchy hooks.