A welcome return to Gails Kitchen for the latest monthly round up hosted by the ever delightful Two Ways Home. As ever the supporting cast is extremely strong, with a welcome return to Joe Martin who we've not seen on stage since his days fronting Fitzwallace, at last a chance to see Demi Marriner and finally with a new album to plug there is Robbie Cavanagh, pronounced Ca-Vanna and not as Lewis playfully introduced him "cavern-a"
As ever the key to a successful round up is a good opening round as it sets the tone for the evening and Round 1 saw Robbie start with the opening track from his new album "To Leave / To Be Left", a song with a great chorus "Get Out Alive". It came with some great descriptions; "There was a light shining down through a stained glass window like a Busby Berkley scene". That chorus on its final outing was delivered with full throated gusto, the bar was set immediately very high. Demi took the baton and kept up the momentum with some delicately held notes on "Wrong Kind Of Right". Joe Martin then played his new single "Better Than Today". This was proper all out crooning and I must admit it knocked my socks off! Two Ways Home were left to close out Round 1 in style with "Just For Now".
Round 2 was to see no let up in quality, if anything Robbie turned the screw a little tighter, starting with a intense slow strum that became "I Wish I Could Let You Go". Demi delivered a new song, "What Am I Doing Here" which at times was delivered with an almost jazz like vocal and came with some great lines like "I'm not bitter I'm just saying it's your fault"! Joe Martin delivered "Strong" with Izzy of Two Ways Home adding additional vocals on the slightly higher pitched chorus. Two Ways Home closed out Round 2 with "Take My Hand" which was performed with the additional jeopardy of seeing the audience failing at an attempt to open a bottle of Prosecco, leading to the fear that they might be hit by a wayward cork at any moment!
The joy of the Round up is the cross pollenation and Round 3 started with Robbie and Demi performing as a duo for an excellent song "This House", it came ironically with a repeated final line of "I said it once I won't say it again". Demi then took her own turn to deliver a slice of pure classic country with "Cold Coffee" which "tasted better first time round". Joe Martin then delved into his debut EP for a song that came out of recent trip to the West Coast and time spent reading "Hit The Road", the song "Denver" was utterly absorbing as he listed a number of places that he could no longer go back to. The final song of the round saw Demi up for a third time as she was co writer with Two Ways Home of the title track of their most recent EP "Closest Stranger", the power of the 3 voices together was absolutely awesome.
Round 4 started with Robbie singing a delicately picked tune in "Let You Down" with Joe visibly mouthing along the words, there was also a lovely additional guitar solo thrown in by Lewis in what was a quite exquisite song. Demi once again invoked that jazz like feeling for a new song "Miss The Rest". Joe Martin had a somewhat hilarious tale about going to find John Paul White of the Civil Wars in Alabama and as he sung "Killing Me Slowly" he brought to mind the sound of a classic 70's singer like Jim Croce . Two Ways Home voted to "Keep the mood sombre" with "Better Days".
The final round saw Robbie again delivering another beautifully played song "Godsend". It was sung in a slightly higher pitch, it was hard to classify but was dreamy and excellent, possibly his best of the night from an exceedingly high quality batch. Demi's final song, her new single called "Snakes and Ladders", which was notable for two reasons, the first being that sat in the very front row watching on was Laura Oakes who herself had a hit with a song of the same name, the second reason it was notable was that the phrase "Snakes and Ladders" did not actually appear in the song.! Thank heavens for Izzy asking the question we were all thinking, apparently it was originally called "Games" and when that did not feel right a variety of other game names were tried before settling on "Snakes & Ladders".
At the last Round Up Kaity Rae unveiled what I believe will be one of the songs of 2018 and this time round Joe Martin did exactly the same, "Letters Of Regret" was a song of absolute sheer beauty with an excellent story and delivered in style - this deserves to be a huge hit just on first listening!
Even though they had a new single out the next day, Two Ways Home decided to close out on "Two Short Years" with Robbie returning a favour form earlier by adding a guitar solo, bringing to an end another evening of high quality songwriting, showcasing the depth of talent this country has to offer.