Thursday evening’s gig in the familiar embrace of the Norwich Arts Centre was billed as an EP Preview show, providing a showcase for some of the new songs that will feature on Lucy Grubb’s next release, due some time in early 2020. Support was from UK-based New Yorker singer-songwriter-photographer Annie Dressner and Manchester’s Demi Marriner, who will be playing at the annual AmericanaFest in Hackney in January. Demi sounded the Americana real-deal alongside guitarist Robbie Kavanagh (familiar to some from Maverick and Red Rooster appearances), so much so that it was almost a surprise to hear her Mancunian accent when she chatted to us after her opening number, engaging warmly with the audience. Annie was playing the NAC for the first time in about seven years and has a new single – Nyack – which is released next week. She performed melancholic songs of heartbreak and sadness but she was quick to point out that although this is where musical inspiration often stems from she also has a happy life. Both Annie and Demi were warmly received by the appreciative Norwich crowd. As, of course, was Lucy Grubb.
Lucy Grubb always impresses. One of Annie Catwoman’s Sonic Youths, I remember writing about her way back in 2015 when she can only have been 17 or so, playing with Morganway at The Birdcage, that “… it was her own songs that I enjoyed the most, one cannot help but wonder where some of those lyrics are coming from, she’s obviously another ‘old soul’ with a huge talent for expressive songwriting” and I believe that even more so now. That old soul coming out in her writing and expression. Her songwriting is so good, with a clever turn of phrase and expressive storytelling. She has a quite excellent band around her too and this was actually the first time all five of them played together with Lucy, notable local musicians providing highly sympathetic bass, electric guitar, keys, drums and banjo, really allowing the songs to breathe and the lyrics and vocals to shine.
Lucy has an understated and engaging manner and whatever she may be feeling she projects a quiet confidence, brave enough at one point to take off her hat and guitar and perform unaccompanied or with just one or two of the band with her. It all passed enjoyably and all too quickly and despite the pleas for an encore she had exhausted her entire back catalogue. Nobody would have complained had we gone around again though!
Be it achingly tender and earnest songs or the more uptempo ones she and the band perform them with aplomb and Lucy is one of our best.
“Fresh from receiving “a rapturous reception” (BBC Cambridgeshire) headlining the Den Stage at Cambridge Folk Festival and a year of playing stages all over the country, Lucy Grubb, complete with full band, is back on home turf and celebrating a summer of festivals with the release of new music: Americana with a country-twist.”
At the end of last weekend I closed my Wild Paths 2019 experience at Frank’s Bar for a most beautiful set from Yve Mary B. Feeling pretty exhausted after a full day of music Yve’s songs were the perfect way to wind down and end the evening in a very intimate setting, it felt like being comforted and wrapped in a warm musical blanket! Thank you Yve.
Earlier in the day I caught local favourites Hot Raisin at The Bowling House plus Floral Image, Galli, Amethysts, Dharma Hum, and Our Quiet Friends at Last Pub Standing.
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