June 29, 2016
After countless house shows, this salon-style performance series moved to a private room at Regent Park’s Princess of Wales pub. The winning combination of good food, a select audience of 40 and hand-picked musical talent moved with it.
Amber Rubarth played first, fresh from a Glastonbury appearance with her Americana trio, Applewood Road. She reprised what has quickly become an Applewood Road classic, a cover of R.E.M’s Losing My Religion. She acknowledged that the song is ubiquitous; “I heard it about a million times before I knew I loved it.” Nevertheless, Amber’s languorous arrangement of the song seems somehow natural.
The rest of the set showcased both her extensive solo back catalogue and new songs being played live for the first time. Each was effortlessly delivered with Amber’s trademark pure vocals and a hint of a country twang. You could have heard a pin drop as the American ex-pat audience discovered the talent amongst them.
There was even poetry in the way the songs were introduced. In the Creases was described as “a love song for the people that infused your life,” while new track Colored Glass Hearts was billed as a “dreaming song.”
Amber’s lyrics expressed a quirky sensibility and interests ranging from the mundane to the macro; from toast to the cosmos. Introducing her second ‘moon song’ of the evening, Amy remarked that “when you wish on a star, it’s probably dead…it’s really beautiful.” This appreciation of uncanny beauty intrigued the audience – just wait ’til they discover Rough Cut, a haunting song about wood-carving written from the point of view of the wood!
After a brief pause for homemade cookies (event organisers: take note!), it was time for more music. The host’s introduction was effusive and emphatic: “I can’t believe such a tiny little person has so much music in her…if you don’t come to tears, that’s because you have no heart.”
The introduction was apt; even the performer was moved to tears by the end of the night. Lucy seemed awed by the intimacy of the space and touched by the crowd’s silent appreciation: “I didn’t even know that these things happened!” The select few in attendance were treated to a compelling and confessional performance; introspective rather than depressing as Lucy had feared.
She shared stories through song with a level of vocal control that drew inevitable comparisons with Laura Marling. At other times, her gentle delivery and charm was reminiscent of Jack Johnson. Like Amber Rubarth, she was self-taught on the guitar – both sets were all the more impressive for it.
It proved to be an interesting exercise for this reviewer who, unaware that two performers were scheduled, didn’t know Lucy’s identity until the show ended. It turned out to be Lucy Rose, familiar to anyone who has seen a festival line-up in the last few years!
It wasn’t all songs and secrets. There was time for discussion of some of the most important issues of the day; Brexit and Donald Trump’s tiny hands. Earnest debate continued well into the night, over yet more delicious food.
Head to Amber Rubarth’s website for information about how to pre-order her new album, Wildflowers in the Graveyard. Don’t miss her when she tours the UK in July with Applewood Road. In the meantime, check out their album, Applewood Road, which sounds like this.
Lucy Rose’s music and a list of tour dates is available at lucyrosemusic.com
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