This gig was originally scheduled for early March, but was postponed due to the heavy snow at that time. At least this time, the only casualty was Lisa Wright, who was scheduled to appear, but had to pull out due to illness. Held at LIBRARY in St. Martins Lane, it is a small capacity, long but narrow venue, which at times, became rather crowded, mainly with the upcoming acts, and their friends.
Showcasing the best new Country and Americana talent,
The evening opened with Stoke based Simon Clewlow. Looking and sounding like a cross between Chris Stapleton and Darren Hodson, his seven song set mainly consisted of self-penned numbers, including his debut single “Vintage Photo Frame”. With just a softly played acoustic guitar, and simple chords, the strong storytelling lyrics are what make you stop and listen. “Only When It Rains” and “Closing Time” were outstanding, as was his cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halo”. Look for his debut EP later this year.
Next on were Kingston based duo Emmy Kay and Adam Lewis, better known as Days Are Done. Fresh from a couple of appearances on the pop-up stages at C2C, Days Are Done have an upbeat catchy style along the lines of Two Ways Home and Gasoline & Matches, and at times, reminded me very much of early Tracey Thorn/Everything But The Girl. Drawing from their recent EP release “Closer”, their seven song set, included “Nightblind”, “Never Let You Go” and a new release “Firewood” amongst others. Days Are Done should have no problem fitting into the 1 Boy, 1 Girl, 1 Guitar category, and are well worth catching, if they are in your area.
Third act up was Hannah Paris complete with her 3 piece band (acoustic guitar, bass guitar and cajon). With her familiar country pop sound and catchy lyrics, Hannah did not disappoint. With a five song set, mainly comprising of tracks from her recent debut EP “Short Stories”, including “You You You”, “Scared Of The Dark” and her latest single “Just You Wait”, Hannah is another artist to keep an eye on, especially in the forthcoming festival season.
Next on was Jessica Davies (Jess Davies Band), complete with acoustic guitarist and bass guitarist. Hailing from the South Coast, Jess has a mellow country voice that blends with country ballads well. Her 3 original songs, “Borrow My Heart”, “Momma Told Me” and “My First Whiskey” along with her version of Maren Morris’s “Dear Hate”, were impressive for a relative newcomer. The other two covers, Miranda’s “Smoke Break” and Carrie’s “Two Black Cadillacs“, although well sung, would have benefitted from a greater stage presence and stronger vocals. Jessica’s whole set was performed with her arms down by her side throughout, which looked rather unnatural and gave an “I’m Bored” impression! Her EP “First Three Tales” is due out shortly, and is worth checking out.
Fifth act tonight was Lucy Grubb. Described as modern Americana with Country overtones, most of Lucy’s songs gave a nod to country music references, including ‘Cowboys’ ‘Tennessee’ ‘Nashville’ and a song about Johnny Cash! With Lucy’s soft vocals and simple guitar playing, accompanied by Louie Barby on cello, she drew mainly from her highly acclaimed EP “18 Miles”. Lucy has a Country/Americana sound that could have come from the USA itself. Standout performance was a song for her Grandfather, “Dear Walter”. Another act worth keeping an eye on.
Next on stage was Penny Riveria. Considering Penny is a relative ‘New’ performer on the circuit, she has first class stage presence and can easily grip an audience. With interesting story telling between songs, you would think Penny has been doing this for many many years! Her soft but powerful vocals filled the small venue effortlessly. There was superb accompaniment by Lewis Warne on acoustic guitar and special mention must be made to Mikey Lewis on electric guitar. The almost ethereal guitar sounds from Mikey added to Penny’s emotion filled six song set. Mikey is completely blind, and often plays at The Blues Kitchen in Camden Town, he also wrote for All Saints in the 90’s. Performances included her 2017 single “Who Do You Think You Are”, her next single “Real Man” and a co-write with Jake Morrell, “The Girl From Instagram”. She put her own spin on Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”, and closed her set with a new song “City Lights”, a song so new, she had the lyrics written the back of her hand! Another performer destined for great things.
Last up was Tom Delaware. Performing solo with just an acoustic guitar for company, (rather than a three piece band), his set was rather spoilt by the increasingly noisy talking in the venue. Performing four original songs and three covers (Dan & Shay’s “What You Do To Me”, Josh Turner’s “Hometown Girl” and Luke Combs’s “Hurricane”), these songs suited his gruff singing style perfectly.
Just when we thought it was all over, Tom called Gary Quinn to the stage (Gary was in the audience), to accompany him on Garth Brook’s “The Dance”.
Gary then closed the evening with his own song “Love To Watch You Leave”.
A perfect end to an excellent night’s entertainment, and all for a fiver!