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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Buckle & Boots 2023: The Paddock Stage - Donna Marie, Tennessee Twin & Sarah Yeo

The key to the success of a Songwriters Round very much depends on the line up chosen – sometimes 4 strangers on stools with little in common can be an entertaining but dry event. The magic normally comes with the cross pollenation between artists. For the first Sunday Songwriters Round after Church - there would be no worries on this front, for despite being as geographically stretched as they could be, Tennessee Twin , Donna Marie & Sarah Yeo were certainly no strangers and often fly under the flag of convenience – The Song & Stories Collective.

Born during Lockdown they have played together virtually often and at least a couple of times physically, most recently at “Country On The Coast”, so they are more than familiar with each other’s work – in effect this was a band in its own right and that is what marked this round out as being different from the many others on display over the weekend.

Donna Marie would start things off “On The Road”, immediately breaking with convention by playing each of her contributions standing up. At first it also seemed odd that she should count herself in until a quick glance to the other end of the line saw that Geoff was also joining in on guitar. By the time she hit the chorus, Victoria and Sarah had joined in on backing vocals so strong it was like a choir imbuing a certain Gospel feeling to the proceedings. Donna has a warm soulful voice on this song about life on the road. – Only one song in and already it was clear that this was going to be an ordinary round.

Next up was Devonian, Sarah Yeo, who we’ve had the pleasure of seeing before yet, not like this. For “Next Year It’s Nashville”, there was to be a three guitar sound and the return of the “choir”. The song was packed with the little details that any country fan would immediately pick up on. Keeping the “road” theme going, Tennessee Twin would close out the first round with “Born For The Road”, which saw Sarah add a mandolin to the overall sound. The song deals with separation and as Geoff sung the line

“When I leave I know It breaks your heart” – Victoria was closely watching nodding along.

Round 2 once again started with Donna and a song that came out of the Songs & Stories Collective sessions. “Falling Through The Cracks” was a slightly faster paced affair, with Donna recalling the times of her parents. Convention again slightly changed with Tennessee Twin going next for their single from earlier in the year “Cracks In The Rear View Mirror”.

The theme interestingly looked at things in the past that you might not be proud of rather than the usual "Glory Days" - everything was great approach. Geoff acknowledging

"It was a broken road but it made you mine"

This was a spirited performance and as with most duo's it is those moments when they sing together that they really shine.

Sarah Yeo would then make her second round contribution with her single of last year “No Way Jose”, the recorded version which came with an all out electric sound that initially would seem to be difficult to replicate in such surroundings. The Collective got around this by enhancing the “Western” elements and with a three prong guitar attack worked up a compelling facsimile.

The Songs & Story Collective have released stuff under their group non de plume, one of which, a cover of “Humble & Kind” was reproduced here as a group entry for Round Three. With everyone contributing at some point throughout the song, the essence of the material really came across and fitted in well with early Sunday vibe that was being created.

Round Four would be another group effort, for a cover of The Corrs classic “Runaway” – once again we were able to witness the power of all four voices merging together to form a wonderful choir effect.

The Songs & Story Collective will return together in person at The West Country Music Festival

They will also collectively be going into the studio later in the year – the results of which will surely be highly anticipated on the evidence of this showing.




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