OST at Cinema City, Norwich, with Inlay and Jessica Alice, 30 July 2013 review
It’s not all that often the Jessica Alice performs live so I was eager to hear Jess play at Iain’s excellent OST night. Although I say she doesn’t play live often, I have been lucky enough to hear her play three or four times in recent months – including that amazing night in the Bicycle Shop with Liz Green – so I hope this trend continues. Tonight on her “home turf” she performed a short but beautiful set, including a couple of new compositions and the cover of “Firecracker” by Frazey Ford. The as yet untitled new song (dubbed “Jess 1” by Iain) sounded anything but a work in progress, it sounded polished and lovely. Jess has a very sweet voice and a natural style of guitar playing that she makes seem effortless, as Heart of a Dog Jon also mentioned later in the evening. I totally agree.
Speaking some time later, Jess said that she was actually rather nervous, but she shows none of this at all whilst talking and performing. She always seems to have a smile and an easy manner and is so likable before she even plays a note, of course, when she does this and sings she has everyone on her side. It’s easy to imagine some of these songs being played on a sunny summer evening in a field somewhere, they are evocative, atmospheric, beautiful and well performed. After the set a few people, hearing her for the first time, remarked how much they enjoyed it and asked me her name.
Taking the stage next were Inlay, on a pre-tour date in their home city base. I’ve seen them before at The Bicycle Shop earlier in the year, and I was again struck by their musicianship. They play predominantly English folk songs, the style of which their own compositions fits into also. Featuring accordion, banjo, viola, bodhran, guitar and plenty of loops at times, their songs build layer upon layer quite beautifully. Most of the songs are five minutes-plus in length, and do not conform to any verse-chorus, verse-chorus formula. I’d hesitate to use a term like “folk-jazz” but they have removed limits and have clearly had much fun experimenting. That is not to say that they are tuneless or freeform however, they are neither, each musician masterful at what they do and playing with much subtlety. I was especially impressed with the guitarist and his use of pedals and loops which was quite fascinating.
Inlay are about to embark on a short UK tour:
2-9 Aug | Sidmouth FolkWeek, Devon
10-11 Aug | Reepham Festival, Norfolk
12 Aug | Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham
13 Aug | Hirst’s Yard, Leeds
14 Aug | The Folkroom @ The Harrison, Kings Cross, London
15 Aug | The Rose Tavern, Norwich
16 Aug | TBA
words and photos by richard shashamane 2013