The London Roots Festival - Molly Tuttle, Emily Mae Winters Bush Hall
With Country Music Week now behind us it was time to move into the London Roots Festival and a chance to see two fast rising talents destined for great things.
Tonight's opening act took to the stage in a fairly unassuming style, dressed in a long black coat her first task was to inquire if the crowd, which had been snaking around the Bush Hall some considerable time before doors opening, had warmed up, before launching into her first song of the evening "Blackberry Lane". With her last few London shows having been with a band it was nice to get a chance to see just Emily and her acoustic guitar once again. A masterful display of gentle guitar playing and beautifully controlled vocals immediately hushing the Bush Hall crowd.
Such had been her haste to get under way that she only announced who she was in the introduction to the second song. it wasn't conventional but there is nothing conventional about Emily Mae, she finds inspiration in areas not often visited by other singers in the genre, and has a stage presence completely like no-one else, as Bush Hall would later find out!
Following up the first song from her first album with the first from her second, the excellent "High Romance", in the shape of "Come Live In My Heart And Pay No Rent", a majestic melody delivered with some aplomb, with its sweeping almost anthemic chorus finishing on the sweetest of notes.
The pace then suddenly increased with of our favourite songs of 2019 "Wildfire", it may have been stripped of the driving guitar riff of the recorded version but retained its power to enthrall and as she performed Emily Mae looked every inch the headliner not just the support, with some fearsomely delivered vocal.
There was time for a debut of some new material in the shape of "Surrender", a delicate country ballad, that immediately caught your attention from the opening notes. The introduction to "Gin Tingles and Whiskey Shivers" did belie Emily's school teacher past as she elicited the required responses from her audience. That same audience then went on to provide percussion in the shape of clapping and stomping as Emily powered out her song on the after effects of alcohol.
To close out her short but perfectly formed set, it was back to her latest album for two slices of pure Emily, both asking questions, the autobiographical "Would The World Stop Turning?" and "How Do You Fix A Broken Sun?" about recovering your inner happiness. She remains one of the most exciting UK talents on the Americana scene and as if any confirmation were required the quite blistering final chorus will have left no-one in any doubt about that.
Having sold out the Lexington, on her last London visit and now Bush Hall on her subsequent one, Molly Tuttle's star is also most definitely on the rise, and the next ninety minutes would be a testament as to why that is. Playing with one of the most most musically inventive bands we've witnessed all year she would deliver a quality packed set with minimal fuss, a high degree of musicality, and with a batch of songs that immediately made you feel welcome.
Kicking off with "Save This Heart", a number of things immediately become apparent, the inventive drumming of Nicholas Falk and the interaction between the fiddle player and Molly's guitar playing. From there to the slower paced, moody and atmospheric "Sit Back And Watch It Roll", with Molly's guitar line leading from the front, but also made by the superb fiddle support.
There was a superb backstory that came with "Million Miles" about how her co write with Jewel came together on the back of a light lie!. It was more poppy but was a style that Molly adapted to with effortless ease. The mood then slowed a little with "Make My Mind Up" with its somewhat gently hypnotic chorus instantly captivating
One of the rare covers on the night came in the shape of "Zero" by the Yeah Yeah Yeah's immediately starting with a blur of guitar work, and once again showing how adaptable both Molly and her band could be - simply magnificent with time for both guitar and fiddle solos.From the pace of "Zero" it was time to slow again with "Sleepwalking", the pop vocal now replaced by an almost dreamy folk vocal on the chorus.and then to the shuffle of "Messed With My Mind" with its irisistible "You had your chance and you blew it" chorus. That folky feel carried on into "The High Road" which saw some extremely inventive sympathetic percussion providing a perfect backing. That inventiveness followed to the intro to the following number where in sync with the bass, Molly's palette was gradually built up for the traditional song by the Dillards, "Old Man At The Mill", a song she had learnt as a child.
A little solo slot then started with another early learnt tune, the classic Townes Van Zandt, "White Freight Liner Blues" which provided a chance to truly see and appreciate Molly's remarkable playing. it's not often you get to hear a bit of Swedish folk however the return of the fiddle player Christian Sedelmyer to join in on "Bas-Pelles Eriks Brudpolska" was something just a little out of the ordinary and at the same time beautiful, sounding almost classical at points.
With the full band returning to the stage, things returned to a degree of normality with "Don't Let Go", a piece of superior singer songwriting with its somewhat ethereal final section. The closing section of the show seemed to come around far too soon, the fast paced "Light Came In (Power Went Out)" inspired by the real events of having the power cut off! There was a trip back to those early days with "Good Enough", and with Halloween looming what better than an old murder ballad with an interesting lyrical switch in the song "Rain and Snow" making it not the man doing the murdering for a change! One final song of the main set once again commenced with an interesting rhythm pattern, and an almost wailing violin before Molly kicked in with a final blur of her right hand on "Take The Journey". The spirited encore of The Bands "Up Cripple Creek" closed things out in fine style before a marathon signing session for a huge queue of well wishers. Molly Tuttle is undoubtedly going places in 202o and is certainly going to be taking Americana in the right direction with her.