Their autumn tour brought a welcome return to Norwich for Worry Dolls. I’ve seen them a number of times, supporting Morganway in the same OPEN venue, a storming set at Red Rooster last year, and another great set supporting Lera Lynn at OMEARA last December.
Opening in impressive style though was singer and guitarist Robert Vincent with fine accompaniment on upright bass. He’s an engaging storyteller, giving us background stories to the songs as well as his nightmare journey from Liverpool, mainly in Norwich itself due to the excessive amount of roadworks all taking place at the same time, as I myself found on my cycle journey with Earlham Road now completely closed. He told us too of his time in the legendary Rockfield Studios working with Ethan Johns. His sound is warm and rich and sounded excellent in the OPEN club room and he has an excellent voice which grabbed my attention. A voice which at times brought to mind Roy Orbison. Yes, that good!
For whatever reason (those roadworks?) there was a disappointing turnout for this gig and some seats were out, I don’t know if that contributed to the polite but quiet and slightly self-conscious audience. They were however respectful and appreciative but it’s a shame there were not more of us. It was a cold, damp evening though with about sixteen other gigs taking place around the city.
Worry Dolls are Zoe on vocals, banjo and piano with Rosie on vocals, guitars and stomp box (in the absence of their drummer), they play a blend of their beloved Americana with hints of Irish folk, deliverying beautiful, atmospheric harmonies in stories at times melancholic but also with some bite on songs such a Bless Your Heart, a phrase which is not exactly a compliment in the U.S. They also gave the background to writing a song around the title, using the magical fireflies of Nashville as an inspiration for Firefly. Both Zoe and Rosie delivered a song each on their own, revealing different aspects of their sound and their respective identities
I do hope they will be back in the city, it’s always a treat to catch Worry Dolls, hopefully we can give them the bigger audience they deserve next time. However, it was to their great credit (as with Robert Vincent) that they happily played as if there were four times as many people there which made for a most enjoyable evening for all present. On their previous visit to Norwich I bought the Worry Dolls’ album on vinyl so this time I picked up their 2015 EP Burden, and brand new EP The River. Highly recommended for fans of Hope in High Water, another duo well known to us in Norwich and who they have in fact shared bills with recently, and even Ida Mae.
“Worry Dolls are a compelling duo born out of the joint talents of multi-instrumentalists Zoe Nicol and Rosie Jones. Serendipity brought them together at an open mic night when they were 18, both studying music in Liverpool. Both redheads with guitars, on their chosen path of becoming solo singer songwriters, and both falling under the spell of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. Paired by their teachers for an opportunity to have their songwriting critiqued by Paul McCartney, they were inspired to start co-writing, and could now be described as an almost telepathically linked songwriting force.
They set off from University together, making music as Worry Dolls. It was a new sound, blending the tender urgency of Zoe’s Irish-influenced voice with the fiery integrity of Rosie’s vocals and rhythmic guitar. Zoe transferred her fingerpicking skills to ukulele, followed by Earl Scruggs-style banjo, motivated by players like Emily Robison (Dixie Chicks). These days playing piano has been added to the live performances and Worry Dolls frequently perform with a band. They have also started touring in Europe spreading the special blend of UK Americana folk rock.
The duo signed to Bread & Butter, who released their debut LP, Go Get Gone, 2017. A ‘Song of the Year’ nomination lead to them performing at London’s historic Hackney Empire with Ethan Johns at the UK Americana Awards earlier this year, alongside Robert Plant and Mumford and Sons. The duo will flying back to Nashville to showcase at AmericanaFest this September in support of their album release Stateside this summer 2018. “
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