Country In The Afternoon pretty much does what is says in the title, with 8 quality acts playing across the weekend, throughout the afternoon at the Half Moon, Putney, all for a bargain price. In these hopefully covid free times the Half Moon have gone for the aggressive air conditioning solution, it did mean that although the sun was shining outside to provide quite a warm late summer afternoon, the temperature inside remained on the cooler side. With the artists looking out onto huge pictures of Kate Bush and Elvis Costello as they performed, all was set for a perfect afternoons entertainment.
The first act of the afternoon was the seemingly bizarrely named Em/Elle, who had been due to close out the Paddock Stage at Buckles & Boots 2021 on the Saturday night. Contracting covid sadly put that career highlight on hold for another year, while the mystery of the name was later explained to be a play on the opening letters of her name Emma Louise, Today was to be her debut appearance with a band featuring Joe Dolman on guitar who would have many parts to play as the day progressed.
With striking pink locks, a striking sense of attire and a Merseyside accent she delivered a short but memorable 25 minute set. A booming electronic keyboard bass sound, signaled the start of "Can't Afford". With the volume set possibly a shade too high this was to be a strange Americana / electronica mash up. Whether the strong sounding song was assisted by the the musical trickery is open to debate however with Em/Elle holding the microphone in one hand while expressively gesturing with the other, she certainly proved hard to take your eyes off.
The introduction to "Time Bomb" highlighted Em/Elle's anti bullying efforts in local schools. Once again distorted by being slightly too loud. however there was a poppy chorus attached to a dramatically moody verse.
Things got a little quieter for a Cam cover of "Forgetting You" with Em/Elle seemingly living every line. It was mainly just acoustic guitar and afforded a proper chance to hear her talents. Although the electronica sounds would return for "Crash", this time they were a little more muted and Em/Elle's vision for how she wants to sound became a little clearer, With a big power chorus, Em/Elle certainly showed that there was a proper singer could still thrive beneath all the trickery.
Strapping on a guitar for "Voicemail", her angry song, proved to be a slower tune with a funky back beat attached to a more standard Americana chorus that once again showed Em/Elle's really belting out the chorus with some aplomb,
The set was to close with "Collateral Damage" the one song released so far and surely the blueprint for how today was more supposed to sound. It opened to "Em/Elle" singing to a more electronica based than country sound and was by far the most successful of the 2 musical genres crashing together.
Em/Elle is undoubtedly going to ruffle a few feathers with this act, it is taking the genre into new territory and it will be interesting to see how many people follow her down this route. It also must be remembered that as a band this was very much a debut performance and with a few sound tweaks there is certainly something interesting going on and we look forward to hearing more from Em/Elle at a later date.
Who would have thought that Jake Morrell was such a rebel?, His first action on taking to the stage was to put his pint of liquid inspiration less than a yard away from the sign saying no drinks on stage! Having been unable to catch his set at Buckle & Boots, this provided an early opportunity to catch up with Jake, performing today for the first time as the Jake Morell Trio.
Always good company in whatever format he comes Jake opened with "Wire & Thorns", the electric guitar flourishes working a treat as did the impressive sound of all three voices singing together on the chorus.