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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Who To Look Out For At Buckle & Boots 2023: Sarah Yeo, Donna Marie, Tennessee Twin

Easing the way into Sunday's proceedings post the ever popular Church Service,at Buckle & Boots is a UK Songwriters Round - one that hasn't just been thrown together, for during the pandemic these three acts would come together under the name of The Songs & Story Collective where the released a couple of singles and did many live streams. Their take on "Humble & Kind" may make an appearance and the excellent "Stars & Stripes" gave an idea of the sort of original material they are able to generate.

More often to be found plying her trade down South is Sarah Yeo who has a solid back catalogue of songs to dip into - her single from last year "No Way Jose" being a fine example.

Her "Broke Away" EP is a great starting point to check out her songwriting and singing. A song like "Fall For You" is a thing of beauty that should be in anyones collection while"Roadie" could not be more rooted in real personal experiences .

When we last met Sarah she seemed blissfully unaware of how popular she might be in a room full of music lovers - the number of cd's she brought with her could have been sold many many times over

Donna Marie is no stranger to Buckle & Boots, most memorably being bandleader for stellar performances by Thorne Hill. This year though she'll be appearing in her own right,

Quite what material we will get to see from Donna Marie as a solo performer is anyone's guess - her recent solo material has included the excellent dramatic Covid inspired "Lockdown" and her remake of the Del Amitri classic "Nothing Ever Happens" and who could forget her duet with Thorne Hill "Won't Forget This Night".

She can truly rock out as on her single "Good Time Gal" whether we'll see that stripped back to its raw original format remains to be seen

The third party in this Songwriters Round will be Tennessee Twin - otherwise known as Geoff and Victoria . Although we've known of them for years this will be the first time that our paths have actually crossed in a live environment. It also belatedly gives us an excuse to publish a previously unseen review of their EP - The Lost Years which for whatever reason got started and was never properly completed ( until now!) and which hopefully will be on sale at the B&B merchandise table.

The Lost Years CD Review

For reasons we're not entirely sure of, we are probably more aware of Geoff and Victoria via their work with The Songs & Story Collective rather than under their normal monicker of Tennessee Twin. Fortunately that is something we are now able to put right via the release of "Lost Years", an EP of their recent digital only releases now available as a lovely packaged physical cd - the disc itself being a clock face alluding to time passing.

It's a cd that gives a chance how they have developed over the course of the span of five releases taking in a number of different styles,

"Two Heart Rendezvous" - opens to a bright and breezy guitar matched with a good time organ sound before Tennessee Twin come in with their rapid fire vocals, slightly reminiscent of the Barenaked Ladies in "One Week", such is the speed at which they come. The first verse seems to find two people on the edge of attending a school dance, this style of delivery possibly reflecting their nervousness

"Standing at the edge of the school hall - trying to take the first step, trying not to trip and fall

Hoping that you'd say Yes you would dance with me, kiss me to a slow song, hope its like its meant to be"

As those exchanges come to an end things open out into a much more majestic pop country affair

"Give me wings and make me fly, make me bold enough to try

In this crowded room make it just me and you

Give me hope and make me smile - make our eyes and hearts collide

Please make this the ground on which our love has grew

Let's fall across for a Two Heart Rendezvous"

The second verse is clearly set much later and offers a belated second chance,

"Walking by the school like I often do, thinking of the old days, wondering what became of you?

Suddenly there's someone bumping into me, there's a face that I knew, smiling right on back at me"

It's a wonder Richard Curtis hasn't knocked this up into a big screen treatment by the time they ask

"Is there one more chance for you and I?!

The final choruses see things explode in a number of ways Victoria lets rip with her vocals, Geoff as well to a slightly lesser extent also and there's room for a guitar solo in this all round feel good story.

"When We Move" sees Tennessee Twin aided and abetted by Sarah Jory's magnificent pedal steel playing so full of expression, which could easily steal the show on its own, such is its hypnotic appeal, instead it provides a perfect backing over which the events of the song unfold.

Musically there really is little else, a gentle acoustic guitar faintly accompanies the track leaving the spotlight to fall firmly on Victoria's vocals, which are also quite spectacular as they move gently between country and folk, and at times are so choral they are that angelic.The subject of "When We Move" is one that would be universal in a relationship at any time and during Lockdown became even more exacerbated, in that it deals with that moment when there is a relationship disagreement and someone must take a step backwards to defuse the situation.

"I can reach out my hand and touch you but a river of our words keeps us apart

I can make the first move and hold you or let time tick and take your heart

The barriers are strong the fences are tall, we'd rather stand our ground than start to fall"

The lyrics perfectly capturing how things in the heat of the moment can seem so huge and how quickly positions can become entrenched. The chorus sees Geoff softly join in on vocals and sees them unite and head on the path to resolution.

"But then we move, we move in closer, I feel your warmth your hand your whisper

The movies happy ending, heartbeats that are blending"

With the key tenet of the song being the line "Don't let anger be bigger than love" Tennessee Twin have managed to perfectly execute their vision into a quite compelling piece of music.

There is a nice touch of a tape rewinding at the start of "Rewind" in this song which sees Geoff and Victoria respectively looking back - while reminding us to savour every moment as "Life Ain't Got No Rewind". It sees the pair trawling their personal memories

Victoria's laments how she was always wanting time to pass

""When I was young I'd hear my parents say - the years that pass get shorter every day

I just wanted to be all grown up - never knew it would come round soon enough"

The central message is of making the most of today as this will fuel your memories in later life.

"Live in the moment - live for today - enjoy the journey take your time

When you're sitting on your front porch thinking of the years gone by

Let memories remind you how to fly"

It is a lively punchy song that gets progressively more celebratory as it progresses.

The cd closes with "It's Not A Game" a ballad that seeks to pack a lot into it's four and a half minutes - it sees Victoria put in a vocal that drips in the emotional content of the song. that she sings over just an acoustic guitar.

She is portraying someone who has had her fair share of broken relationships and wants to be sure before taking the plunge again no matter how much she may want to

"Can't say it's been easy

God knows it's been hard

Cant say that I know where I'm going cause the road that's behind me is scarred"

There is definite hope in her heart that this will turn into something

"One day we'll be real

Two hearts intertwined

One day we'll be brave and admit that for too long, we have be blind

Then the world will be watching

Some cruel, some kind

One day all the dust will have settled and the garden gate gossip subside

The chorus is where everything is laid on the line, with Geoff joining in

"Reach out, touch me

Speak out, teach me

Tell me, please won't you whisper my name

Help me, heal me

Hold me, feel me

Tell me, when you look at me that it's not a game

Tell me that you'll take my name"

For those wondering if there is a happy ending

"For the rest of our days we'll cherish the love that took so long to find"

Strangely enough the one song that we have a few quibbles with is "Every Story". It is strange because there are so many so many positives in it - it is a rollicking country tune, that comes with a cast iron, rock solid chorus

"It's like a rainy day on a beach in California

Your first love ends in heartbreak and no-one warned you

It's a Gospel church without the sound of glory

I'm telling you there's two sides to every story"

There's even a lovely touch later on when the Gospel choir comes in on the third line of the chorus.

Our issue is with the characters in the song who just seem a little too overloaded with pathos - like the poor kid in the second verse!

"Ten years old - makes toast for his baby brother - hangs the washing out for their alcoholic mother

Misses school for the family he cares for - but the neighbours think he's just the kid next door!"

The other line that has not aged well in this Post Trump world - and makes Tennessee Twin sound like conspiracy theorists

"Don't believe the news or every story you are told - Just because it glitters it ain't gold"

The idea is right and we obviously know what they are trying to say it just feels that the final result is lacking the overall subtlety to accompany the original concept.

As a collection of songs it is definitely well worth investigating and the packaging alone makes this a worthy purchase.

Tennessee Twin, Satah Yeo & Donna Marie will be on The Paddock Stage Sunday at 12:15




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