Meadowlark returned to Southampton to play an intimate gig at The Talking Heads as part of their UK tour marking the release of debut album Postcards. The band – comprising Kate McGill and Dan Broadley – have been doing their thing for a few years now, steadily building a committed following along the way.
The audience were captivated by the duo throughout the night, listening intently and clearly enjoying themselves. In addition to the band’s enchanting performance, their clever lighting set-up made for a very atmospheric show, with the lights flashing in sync with the beat of the music. Continue reading
For the second night of an extensive schedule of UK, European and worldwide dates over the next couple of months, Nick Mulvey brought his show to Exeter, showcasing songs from his second album Wake Up Now.
As he promised when we chatted with him recently, the full band he worked with on recording the album transfers brilliantly to the live stage. For this show at Exeter Uni’s Student Union venue, the small, atmospheric space was packed out with a crowd drawn from across an incredibly wide age range, underlining the broad appeal of Mulvey’s unique sound.
Often categorised as folk, such a label doesn’t really tell the full story of this artist. Mulvey’s time spent living in Cuba a few years ago significantly impacted his creative leanings, with a somewhat exotic lilt to his phenomenal guitar craft. Right across his repertoire, there are hints of folk, sure, but there is also a real air of world music, along with touches of radio-friendly pop thrown in for good measure.
Among the set highlights were Unconditional, Myela and Imogen from the new album, while old favourite Fever To The Form, from his 2014 debut album First Mind, got the kind of enthusiastic reaction you would expect for what is one of his signature tunes. But he sent everyone home bouncing with Mountain To Move, the upbeat track that features the lyric from which the album Wake Up Now takes its name.
What Mulvey is particularly good at is conveying an on-stage demeanour that is as soothing, approachable and reassuring as his faultless vocal tone. That is one aspect of a winning combination – along with his meaningful songs of substance and highly accomplished musicianship – that sets him apart as one of the most creative contemporary talents around.
As part of their current tour, Amber Run took to the Old Fire Station for their first ever gig in Bournemouth. The band arrived on stage to a packed-out venue, full of committed fans who sang along to every song on the setlist.
The energetic and catchy Pilot opened the set, which got people pumped for the rest of the night. Following this was Spark, a clearly well-loved track from their debut album, with everyone screaming the lyrics. Fickle Game highlighted the musical bond between the band, as they performed together in what seemed their own little world. Continue reading
Nick Mulvey hits the road again next month. He spoke to Sync about latest album Wake Up Now, the pursuit of free expression, and how his new band has enabled him to open up a whole new set of possibilities…
To say it has been a hectic year and a half for singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey would be something of an understatement. As if relocating from London to the countryside and becoming a father for the first time wasn’t enough, this month has seen the release of his second studio album – and a packed schedule of global tour dates in support of that album are about to kick off on 1 October.
But the 32-year-old has been energised by a wholly positive reaction to his latest set of songs. “It’s been really, really lovely,” he said. “On a personal level, I’ve lived with this album for a long time in terms of the writing of it. The build-up to releasing an album is a long one too, in this case all the way through May, June, July and then into August, and so the pressure ramps up a bit. It’s funny, I almost forgot during some of the more intense moments that the whole goal is to release an album.
“For me, it’s been a really lovely and necessary release in more ways than one. These songs are naturally a bit more provocative and maybe even a bit more divisive in terms of the subject matter, so there has been an interesting complexion to the response from people since it’s been out. But people have been letting me know they love it.” Continue reading
Folk-pop harmonies abound in this enchanting song from The Cedar Sisters. Not actually sisters, the Canadian duo are Jane Carmichael and Elle Hermansen and the pair met when both were brought in as backup singers for a local rock band. The two songwriters felt an instant personal and musical connection, and soon after began writing together, creating songs that they describe as ‘electro-folk pop’.
Wait is their first single and they are currently writing and recording more new songs with the goal of releasing a debut EP later this year.
The Cedar Sisters – Wait
Singer-songwriter Bella McKendree will be releasing her debut EP, Waiting, later this month. Out on 18 August, the four-track EP features the forthcoming lead single, Grieve, seeing Bella and her band combine a darting piano melody with the singer’s tender, emotional lyrics.
Says McKendree: “In this song, I’ve laid out my heart, truly transparent about my own experience of loss. The reality is that sometimes you have to confront that dark place so I didn’t sugar coat the truth. It is the most vulnerable record I’ve written.”
Having grown up in the countryside, McKendree moved to London last year to start a band, perfecting her own material at various Sofar Sounds gigs across the country, as well as support slots for the likes of Ryan Keen, Martin Luke Brown and Keaton Henson. She also started working with Grammy Award-winning producer Brett Shaw (Florence & The Machine, Daughter) on the upcoming EP and is currently touring the UK. Among other dates, catch her at The Half Moon, Putney (7 August), and the Sunrise Celebration Festival, Hereford (19/20 August).
Bella McKendree – Grieve
British singer/songwriter Tom Forest returns with the second release from his upcoming debut album Hope. Believer has all the soulful, uplifting brilliance of previous song Summer.
It has a simple melody, with a sincere vocal delicately delivered and totally compelling. Of the song, Forest says: “Last year I was in a dark place with music. It felt like life was telling me it was time to stop, even though it was something that had always been second nature. To make an album took a huge amount of support from friends and family – many people contributed to that process and I’m so grateful.
“Sometimes the value of dreams is not in whether you achieve or fail, but in the belief in that it brings out in those around you. If you find yourself fighting a battle, even if you lose, you see who comes to join you.”
Tom Forest – Believer
Rising Irish artist Ailbhe Reddy has unveiled Fingertips as the lead single from her new EP, Attach To Memory, which is out this week (24/5). “This EP is an evolution of my first, Hollowed Out Sea,” says Reddy. “Most of these new songs are more up-tempo which shows the fuller sound of my live shows.”
Influenced by the likes of Liane La Havas, Fiona Apple and Hundred Waters, Reddy impresses with an EP built on solid song writing, intricate melodies, and addictive radio friendly hooks – best illustrated on the lead single, Fingertips – albeit with the ‘clean version’ for radio purposes no doubt!
She has been making waves in her native Ireland, ever since a homemade demo of her song Cover Me was used in a Today FM radio advert in 2014. Later that year her first single, Flesh & Blood earned rave reviews and was featured as Song of the Day on Folk Radio UK. She went on to feature on a host of Irish festival line-ups last year.
Reddy has a headline London show this week at The Slaughtered Lamb on 24/5. Tickets here.
Ailbhe Reddy – Fingertips
Here at Sync, we’re proud of our cross-genre track record, but we have to admit, folk probably hasn’t been given due prominence on our playlists. But even if it’s not normally your thing, it would take a pretty hard heart not to fall in love with Almost Home by Keston Cobblers Club.
It’s the joyful title track from their album which came out at the end of last month and is well worth having in your life. And if you like what you hear below, check out another beauty of theirs – Bicycles.
Keston Cobblers Club – Almost Home
New from Tom Speight is this truly beautiful song. Featuring the equally beautiful voice of Jessica Staveley-Taylor from The Staves, Willow Tree is the lead track from an EP of the same name which is due for release on 10 March.
Now we know from experience of seeing Speight live – supporting Turin Brakes on tour last year – just what a class performer he is. If you’ve not had the good fortune of seeing him yet, then get yourself down to one of his forthcoming dates next month when he plays a trio of shows in London (5 April), Manchester (6) and Bristol (7).
Tom Speight – Willow Tree
Get It Loud In Libraries have been running for nine years now and can boast the likes of Florence + the Machine, Adele and The Vaccines in its history books – pun intended – so it seems apt that Lucy Rose embarks on her own library tour as it’s the perfect setting for her folk-rock sound.
The audience at Liverpool Central Library was treated to 90 minutes of stunning acoustic playing from Lucy and band member Alex, warmed up by Annie Eve. It’s refreshing to see a female singer-songwriter support another which Lucy later points out herself. She says she purposely wanted other women on the tour because it doesn’t make sense that it should always be women supporting men or vice versa.
It is clear that Lucy has a great connection with her fans, from stories about how she stayed at South American fans’ houses on her tour, to giving a job on her European tour to a fan who said she wanted to become a tour manager one day, and her interaction with the crowd in Liverpool which is so effortless with no airs and graces or scripts. She also takes requests throughout the night playing the likes of Night Bus, Shiver and Be Alright, despite a bit of a groan and regret at opening up requests, as she wants to play some of her more uplifting songs but she doesn’t disappoint as she kicks off with My Life and continues to play some of her best from album’s Like I Used To – this audience are keen to hear the bonus tracks in this rare live opportunity – and Work It Out.
She says she won’t talk between every song but that’s part of her charm on a live stage, between stories about how she’s the worst child out of her siblings because she sang at one of her sister’s wedding and not the others, as well as forgetting to record a ‘happy birthday’ message to her mum’s friend Jackie who she’s met once in her life. But then the crowd join in the recording as Lucy quips after that she’s now gone from the worst to the best child thanks to the audience participation.
The singer-songwriter has two studio albums under her belt and a recent live release Live at Urchin Studios which she is showcasing on this library tour but she says she has had doubts about recording another album with new material. However, fortunately she teases Liverpool with some new tracks including the wonderful Fernando which was inspired by her tour in South America.
It is fitting then that she wants to end on positive song Like An Arrow, a track which showcases the singer’s voice as she hits the stunning high notes despite asking the crowd to sing-a-long during the chorus because she doesn’t think she sings it very well. It is a lovely moment as the singer connects with fans in what was already a solid set.
Perhaps the doubts of LP number three come from the music industry today and the pressures to secure a multi-million selling number one album, but there is definitely a place for Lucy Rose in the music world and I’m sure the crowds at all the library shows will agree.
Review & Photo by Jonny Yates (@)
Lucy Rose – Like An Arrow
Given their regular appearances on Sync and our Soundcloud playlists, we were somewhat excited to get the chance to catch brother and sister duo Ardyn live for the first time when their UK tour saw them stop off in Bristol.
They certainly didn’t let us down – it was a great set full of promise from a band which so far has just a couple of EPs to its name but for whom the potential is huge. Their sound is folk at heart, but with a real twist. Strong songwriting and Katy Pearson’s hauntingly beautiful vocals combine to great effect and as a live proposition they are accomplished multi-instrumentalists.
A regular on these pages has been Wolverhampton-based singer-songwriter Penny Bridges, whose distinctive voice adds an enthralling quality to her well-written and neatly-produced material.
New track Tomorrow has all of the attributes of her previous work that has appeared on Sync (see Discover…). It is stand-out folk/pop with strong hooks and a lightness of touch that lets the song seep into your consciousness.
Penny Bridges – Tomorrow
There has been a handful of artists that we’ve followed since the very beginning of Sync and which have simply not put a foot wrong. Gloucestershire duo Ardyn are a particular favourite of ours, having created some beautifully rich sounds with real depth and atmosphere.
Brother and sister Rob and Katy Pearson have been developing their enthralling folk-infused material over the last couple of years, releasing EP The Universe last year and most recently fine tuning their live act with an expanded line-up for a string of performances across the UK at festivals of all shapes and sizes.
New song The Valley (featured below along with previous single Over the River which we’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop for a couple of months now!) shows further progress and is sure to help to expand their rapidly growing fan base.
Sync caught up with Ardyn ahead of their show at Farmfest in Somerset this weekend…
SYNC: So what’s the background? When did you start making music and how has it developed over the years?
Katy: We started writing music from an early age. It started off pretty stripped-back, but in the last two years we brought a band in so we could expand our sound.
SYNC: Your music has an ethereal sound that is reminiscent of other artists and yet at the same time sounds totally original. Who are your musical inspirations and influences both past and present?
Rob: Kate Bush has been a massive inspiration to Katy and the Beatles Revolver album to us both. We are a big fan of The Maccabees and The National. We have both been listening to a lot of Father John Misty at the moment – we caught his set at Latitude last weekend, which was great.
SYNC: How does your songwriting process work? Is it purely collaborative between you both or does one take the lead in some respects?
Katy: Our songwriting process is so varied. Sometimes it’s a balanced input from both of us, and other times one of us will come to the other with an almost finished song and just add some last little bits to it. Or Rob will have a riff and come to me to add a melody.
SYNC: Live performances vs studio work: which do you prefer and how have both been going for you recently?
Katy: I love both aspects, but recently I have really been enjoying playing live. We have got to a good place with our set and everyone’s feeling much more confident with the songs.
Rob: I love both, but there’s a great feeling that I get from playing live that I haven’t had in the studio yet.
SYNC: We gather you were in the States recently. Was this an escape for working on new material?
Katy: Yes, we went out there to do some writing and just get out of our comfort zone. It was an amazing experience such a different vibe out there.
SYNC: Closer to home, what is your local music scene like? Has it been an important testing ground for you?
Rob: Our local scene has been really supportive to us over the years, there are a few pubs where we sometimes play low-key gigs to test new songs out.
SYNC: What are the next steps for Ardyn? Are there any live shows are in the pipeline – and can we expect an album anytime soon?
Katy: We have 4-5 more festivals this summer including Green Man and Farmfest and yes, definitely an album in the near future!
Ardyn – The Valley
Ardyn – Over The River
Hailing from South Wales, Hannah Grace has the strength of voice that belies her 23 years. This fiery title track from her new EP Mustang, released earlier this month, shows this only too well and explains why established acts Gabrielle Aplin and Hozier invited the talented singer onto their recent tours as support.
Hannah Grace hits the road for her own UK tour soon with dates in Nottingham (26/9), Birmingham (27/9), Manchester (29/9), Bristol (30/9), Cardiff (1/10) and London (3/10).
We were lucky enough to catch her a few weeks ago when she supported Seal at Bristol’s Colston Hall and she captivated a large audience with her powerfully soulful voice. Expect to hear a lot more of her in the not-too-distant future.
Hannah Grace – Mustang