This performance at the CCA’s wonderful theatre space saw four young musicians who occupy the folk-ish, acoustic space in the musical spectrum gracing Glasgow for an oddly democratic tour; the promoter tells me in advance that the running order isn’t decided until the night on each date, with a loose rotation occurring to give everyone an equal share of the limelight. It’s a minor touch and while it might seem like independent musicians should always be this kind and ego-less, it is nonetheless a pleasant introduction to the vibe of the evening before I even set foot in the venue.
When I did arrive the first on stage was Fenne Lily, a 19 year old hailing from Bristol who opens the show with her blend of disarmingly simple melodies, soft vocals and heartfelt, thoughtful lyrics. Songs about love, family and friends demonstrate her impressive vocal range, and her patter with the crowd between songs is dry, funny and self deprecating, chatting about everything from William Shatner to haggis-induced regret. Her presence on stage is truly captivating, and the first half hour of the show vanishes all too quickly.
Sadly almost any lineup has to have a weak link, and in this case it was most definitely Paul Thomas Saunders. Between the over-strained vocals (which oddly carry a hint of eighties stadium-rock), the trite lyrics and the fact that every song sounds the same, Paul is the embodiment of that guy at a house party with a guitar; everyone wished he’d be quiet, but no-one had the heart to tell him how tedious his songs are.
A trip to the bar later and Sivu took the stage, changing things up with his near-falsetto vocals and a slightly more varied guitar tone. While his work owes more than a little to the late, great Jeff Buckley, once again the heartfelt quality that makes this kind of music so powerful and endearing cuts through. Perhaps with more time James will develop a more distinctive musical aesthetic, but this is by no means a bad start.
Closing the evening was Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen. Her music has been favourably compared to the likes of Laura Marling, and it’s not hard to see why; from the effortlessly elegant finger-picked guitar arrangements through to her delicate voice and emotional lyrics, Siv’s presence on stage is sublime, understated yet utterly enthralling. Moving through a number of songs from her excellent debut LP The Nordic Mellow, detouring briefly for an excellent performance of her debut single and rounding off the show with a completely unplugged performance of album highlight Like I Used To, I could happily have watched Siv perform for another hour. A breathtaking end to a strong show.
Photo courtesy of Carl Osbourn.
For more on Siv Jakobsen and the remaining tour click here.