Amy Helm has a rich musical heritage, as she was brought up with Levon Helm as her father, the prolific drummer from The Band. American roots music has always been in her blood so, were we entirely surprised by her set? Well no, as she took Americana, gospel, blues and country and transformed them for the stage in Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of Celtic Connections 2019. Promoting This Too Shall Light, Amy brought an all-rounded ‘circular sound’ to her fans, which received a vibrant reception.
First up was Nashville’s Andrew Combs, performing with guitarist Charlie Whitten, his velvety vocals warming the crowd before Amy took to the stage. Performing tracks from the recently reissued, Worried Man, including a song he performs at every gig, Too Stoned To Cry, we were indulged by his back catalogue as well as his most recently released tracks. Playing songs such as Like A Feather, Blood Hunters, Rainy Day Song, Christina, Firestarter (not that Firestarter) we got a full set from Andrew, lamenting his vocal strength, which at rare moments alluded to the work of Father John Misty. Poetic and clearly vocally gifted, it was pleasant to be serenaded by the sounds of a troubadour with an evidently talented guitarist.
One of the great attributes of a festival such as Celtic Connections is the bringing together of musical talent from around the world, and the fact that it does indeed connect. It was interesting certainly to witness two American musicians who had clearly been influenced by not only their own roots but that of Scottish music, perform folk songs of universal narratives, love, heartache and times of bounty. Incorporating her cover of Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind, a wee wink to Scotland perhaps whilst over for the Celtic Connections Amy also included Cotton and the Cane, Deep Water and Rescue Me in her set, which were warmly received.
Pigeon-holed Americana, Amy Helm’s music has many other elements to it, with the influences of blues, rock, gospel all woven throughout the chords, and her complimentary vocals. In a venue with great acoustics, to emphasis the euphoria of the performance, Amy Helm’s Oran Mor gig will no doubt be regaled by her Scottish fans, as they reminisce on yet another Celtic Connections night. The queue for the merch stall would more than hint at this. The only disappointment was in the fact that it didn’t sell out, if we consider the sheer talent on stage.
For more on the Celtic Connections 2019 click here.