Whenever I hear of a new band the first thing I do is check them out on YouTube. I think you can tell a lot about a band from their videos – primarily whether they're too busy getting famous to give any thought to what their music is actually trying to say!
So when I heard of Lucy Rose the first thing I did was watch the video for 'Our Eyes'. It certainly convinced me that here was a girl not afraid to stray away from the bland commercialism of the folk-pop genre (you'll have to watch it to find out why!)
Her videos encouraged me to see her when she played at Oxford's O2 and it was at that gig she promised to set up an acoustic gig for the new year. So this was how I found myself a long way from home in Chipping Norton on a cold Monday evening. Chipping Norton Theatre was not what I expected – from my limited (Cameron/Clarkson related) knowledge of the town I assumed it would be somewhere with plush red seats and a sort of endemic smugness. However the auditorium was anything but – a pleasing mixture of Victorian paddleboat and country museum.
Having travelled so far, I couldn't help worry that I might miss the beats that contrast so well with Lucy's angelic voice. Sadly I also failed to imagine that she would have a support act at such a usual venue so missed both the supports generously laid on. If Lucy's previous form is anything to go by – she's been supported by Mercury Music Prize Nominee C Duncan – Sivu and Swampmother are well worth watching.
When I'd seen her previously I'd been struck by Lucy's almost unbearable fragility and seeing her come on stage alone and play to a not entirely full theatre only emphasised this. However what dawned on me as the performance evolved and she started asking for, and actually playing, audience requests is that this fragility might mask something much stronger. This may be the beguiling attraction of Lucy Rose's music – it's tender, vulnerable but never overly sweet (see 'Shiver' from the Like I Used To album).
What I also realised was the extent that her songs have an inherent rhythmic quality – something which stood out when played acoustically. It was a masterful set, including a heart-warming sing-along to the beautiful 'Like An Arrow' (another great video). She ended the set with a rendition of a Bowie number ('Kooks') which she explained that she had recently intensively rehearsed for the BBC's One Show only to be told they wanted her to play the more mainstream 'Starman' (she refused on the basis that Bowie defied the mainstream at all costs).
It's rare that an artist of any description strikes me as unique and then continues to surprise me but Lucy Rose is one of these. Her music says something to me – something unclassifiable, something subliminal and above all something genuine. This is music at its best – something that gets under your skin and stays there.