You never know quite what to expect when you turn up at a Bloomsbury bakery on a Thursday evening for one of the regular Round-ups hosted by Two Ways Home. This month we were promised a secret special guest and sure enough, sitting at the bar drinking a grappa cocktail was none other than Charlie Worsham who was taking his place in tonight’s round. Having been to at least 3 of these evenings at this venue at times it does not always lend itself too well to this type of evening. With tables and chairs crammed in at one end, a bar that is exceptionally noisy throughout, including added percussion from the cocktail shakers, and a set that was tonight plagued with a few technical gremlins early on. Nevertheless any evening that can draw fellow musicians in to the audience (Laura Oakes, Fifth Floor and Kaity Rae ) and allows you to hear the stories behind the songs is a worthy achievement.
First up in the round was Claydon Connor. His first song "Which Road" was a 2015 write whilst on a lads’ trip. Claydon has a softer sound to his voice than many of the ‘gravelly’ country singers you tend to hear these days. His second song "Heartbreak Blues" had a good bassline and rhythm and was an easy listen.
Laura Evans was second in the round, accompanied by Alex Maille on guitar. As a writing partnership they met at C2C when Alex approached Laura after seeing her perform. Their first song "Only Smile for a Photograph" was an interesting take on the world you see versus what’s actually happening. Their second song was where the sound issues came to the fore, however, "Old School" was delivered well and even prompted a little bit of a sing-along.
Charlie Worsham is a familiar face in UK, , having been seen him in several guises since first appearing at C2C. He kicked off with one of my favourites, "Mississippi in July". It’s at times like these, sitting 2 yards away from an artist you regularly listen to, that you appreciate the level musicianship that is on display. His second track before the interval was the comic, lyrically complicated "Take Me Drunk I’m Home"., proving that in country it is possibly to be genuinely humorous whilst still singing a cracking song!
Two Ways Home finished the round with Izzy warning us that due to a trip home to Vienna and the extraction of her wisdom teeth she may not be able to talk/sing quite as she normally would. Warning in place; it certainly wasn’t in evidence on their first song. Nor on the slower "Take My Hand" where the Two Ways Home dual vocals and style were in evidence in abundance. This song drew to a close the first half as they attempted to fix the technical squeaks and whistles.
After a short break we were back for what proved to be the longer set, comprising 3 rounds and another special guest. Sound pops and bangs banished to a distant memory Claydon opened the round on harmonica with a drinking song called "Whiskey Nights". Laura’s song "Beautiful Mistake" was a very nice song about making mistakes, before Charlie gave us a brand new song "In It For Love". This was followed by Two Ways Home’s new song, and single "Outlaws" with Izzy playing Mandolin and Charlie joining in along the way.
For the second round Claydon played "Kind of Man I Am", which featured a guitar solo from Charlie. Laura’s next was their first jointly written song, "Never Gonna Learn", which seemed to be an angry song! We were quickly back to Charlie and the beautiful "Old Times Sake" before the next surprise guest of the evening. Straight off a tour bus Zane Carney took over Charlie’s guitar. Zane has opened for, and plays in, John Mayer’s band and if his first song "I Wanna Have Faith Again" is anything to go by you can see why! Two Ways Home finished the round with the politically inspired "Better Days".
All too soon we were onto the last round of the evening. Claydon’s final track "Broken Hearts Parade" once again featured the harmonica and was probably my favourite of his songs. Laura’s last song was in a ballad/gospel style called "Confession". You could tell that she’d thoroughly enjoyed the evening, as had we. Charlie’s final song he’d recently recorded at Abbey Road studios and is one of the best from his latest release. "Cut Your Groove" is a song all about making your own mark in the world and Charlie certainly deserves to make his mark! A quick guitar swap later and Zane gave us another great song in "I Don’t Believe In Ever After". We were then on to the final song of the night from Two Ways Home, a song that, clearly, isn’t true. But a country round wouldn’t be complete without a prison song and "2 Short Years" is just that. This is also one of my favourite songs and they even gave the rest of the artists the chance to join in with some country guitar picking along the way.
All in all a great evening, as always and certainly worth checking out in the future