10 February, Common Room, By Megan Seawright
Sunday evening in the heat, caught between the end of the first week of school and the end of summer holidays, the Common Room’s evening line-up was met with a quietly receptive and relaxed full house.
Andy and Nina opened the gig with Nina playing cello and Andy showing his musicality with an assortment of stringed instruments from guitar to banjo. This couple sang close harmonies throughout each of their songs, sharing their strength of relationship with the audience. Through this set, an evening of easy-going songwriter tones was established. I’ll mention the cello – such a powerhouse resonance alongside a guitar and Nina’s performance and quick ear conveyed easily the adaptability of formal training into a more fluid setting. These two are clearly in tune with each other, and while their songs are evolving, I would have loved to have seen them turn away from their folder and just let go – on the occasions they did this everything lifted.
It is clear the evening’s performers know each other very well, being related even. So, when Jess from Fables entered the stage with her open, friendly chatter and her certain stage confidence, it was disarming. The songs have simple chord structures, however it’s Jess’s strong voice that carries it all along with a melodic honesty. Her bold tone, her linger on long clear notes, made for full listening. At times her articulation could do with a boost. Essentially a singer-storyteller, with much hearty humour we were all entertained. Jess pulled the audience into a sing-a-long to which there was keen enthusiasm and the gig picked up pace when she invited various members of the other bands to play with her, with notable performances from guitarist Sam as well as Andy.
Five-piece band Paper Cranes completed the evening. The term ‘folk pop’ pops up and certainly their sound is folk bent through a band set up. Theirs is a moderate, gentle art-like musical world with songs that refer to loved family members, ‘hope’ like a faith convention, ‘sorry’ accounting for its true meaning, and the idea of ‘words making the world’. At one point the audience sang along appreciating this was their last gig of their summer tour, all three acts were on the stage in praise of love “I will never leave…” perhaps to ones’ partner or to Spirit. It’s insular music, expressive to their own intimacies and experience of the world. The truest sense of this was in the encore set with just Naomi and Frazer performing.
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