Tonight is a showcase of quiet, broody singer-songwriter types topped off with an explosive riot of madcap Gloucestershire frolics. Naama has a lovely soft voice, plays guitar passably as far as can be discerned, and is assisted by a chap playing louder, more twiddly bits. It’s rather refreshing to find out that she sounds American because she actually is. Ultimately though, whilst her songs are terribly sweet and sad, the effect is slightly dull after a while. Listen to her music here to see if it has the same effect on you: www.myspace.com/naamahillman.
Along similar lines, Canadian Shuyler Jansen, with a face obscured by dark beard and baseball cap, looks like he’s just stumbled out of the Barn Stage at Truck festival. His slightly gruff, mournful drawl works in the same way as Naama’s soft lilt, and whilst transfixed for the first two numbers, this brand of bluesy trailer-park chill-out and Shuyler’s lack of interaction with the audience soon leaves one feeling slightly disenfranchised as an audience member. Perhaps he’ll have warmed up by his second gig here this month, at the Port Mahon on the 21st.
Do you ever fear you might just be bored of music? Well, as someone who does, it was a relief when Chantelle Pike took the stage with her cellist Kate and keyboardist Pete (of Script). Chantelle has an outstanding voice, and it’s hard to think of a context in which she wouldn’t be the best act on the bill. She’s the kind of performer who has her dedicated local audience asking ‘why on earth isn’t she famous?’ and the new tunes on show tonight (including the beautiful ‘Guardian Angel’) had us wondering once again. It’s not quite clear though whether the cello and keyboard provide the ideal backdrop for her voice and guitar – she’s may be better without, or with just the cello and some slightly different arrangements – but the crowd is wowed anyway. Hear her on myspace too: /chantellepike, or catch her with her rock outfit The Cliffhangers at their last ever gig at The Wheatsheaf this Saturday (18th Feb).
How could one ever be bored when faced with a 5-piece with a tiny, tambourine-bashing chap with a Ken Dodd haircut and a singing, sax-playing female keyboardist at the front? Earnest Cox have a name you’ll need to explain when recommending to your friends (it’s an undertaker’s in their home town), and a song which consists of the shouted line ‘ISN’T THE INTERNET BRILLIANT?’ (their new single, out soon). Like a cross between Morphine, the Blues Brothers and the Buzzcocks, the sound is powerful (to say the least) and the energy spewing forth from the stage is infectious. This looks like a band on its way somewhere, despite – may I say it? – the collective age of its members being a few notches higher than the music business seems to demand of its new hopefuls. The frontman, La Windo, has a great voice, the tunes are original and the subject matter sparky, they’re tight, professional and playing all over the place of late, so look out for them. More info at www.earnestcox.co.uk.