14 February 2018, Sitting Room Session Ormond Chapel, Napier By Gill Duncan
Alert: Venue Change. Jamie’s ceiling fell in! Lucky for us his ability to use the charming Ormond Chapel on the hill (one of the oldest buildings in Napier), fell out of this otherwise disastrous result from a roof unable to drain away a downpour. By the way, the culprits were a dead seagull, a plastic bag and a…hat? Gospel.
Standing under the beautiful mature trees before the Session begins, I immediately feel like I’m in a gathering of friends, although I believe anyone can request an invitation. I am among Sitting Room Session regulars and the buzz under the trees, is these guys are good. And within the first few rich but mellow bars I physically and mentally relax into the certainty of music that’s loved and delivered with finesse.
Jordie plays a six metal-stringed acoustic/electric guitar with Clare on a Red and Black Electro3 keyboard. The sound is loosely Country rock but cannot be conveniently boxed into type as the complexities are wonderful, surprising and change with observation like quantum physics (but with way more humour). It’s satin and steady then teases with unexpected minors, sharps and a change of rhythm. Throughout I am intrigued with their ability to set a pace and then stroke it into a groove. And back. It makes me smile; somehow the intention is sensual with a dash of flirty.
We are told all the songs are about love one way or another.
They tell stories in song that are often begun simply: a country lad on a ‘simple’ instrument, Jordie coaxes, strums, plucks and bodily bounces them out of his guitar, then Clare deftly landscapes them with her sweet and savoury vocals, percussion and keyboard accompaniment. The layering creates a deceptive tide that washes us with sophisticated voice and instrumental changes.
The next song “I think I always thought” is one of my faves of the evening. Their voices merge, with Clare entering the lyrics so lightly to take a strong place and then recede. It’s more than clever. Here there is an intuitive and a decisive relationship creating music that, I now realise, I want in my life!
“Trouble in Amsterdam” played before the break. At first I was not as engaged. It was a bit trippy with lots of reverberation and my critical brain was thinking ‘seventies vibe’ before Jordie made that guitar sing. No, really. It was incredible and showed another depth altogether.
On this night we are gifted with two sets, a wine-and-cheese, fragrant coffee and filtered water break between.
The second set opens with “I could die looking at you”. Jordie and Clare close in to share breath and microphone. It’s an intimate pairing but none more sensual than their melted sugar rendition of Elvis’ “Only Fools Rush In.”
Tom Petty is given a tribute from his Echo’s album, “Room at the Top”, and “You are my Sunshine” gets a distinct Lane/Reynolds dust off with delighted audience participation (we are all undiscovered stars!).
Somehow they keep their covers clean and make them their own. I could go on. And on. I loved the whole evening and came away with real respect for these two musicians. Definitely ones to watch, and more importantly, listen to.
(Image credit: Thanks to Olive for the photos)
Support The Hook
We'll use supporter funds to thank our writers and become more financially sustainable.