Sandwiched between the end of a full band tour and a trip to Germany, tonight Lucy offers a stripped back set with just violinist Joy Gravestock for accompaniment. This simpler line up gives way to a more rounded performance, songs from both her previous releases and her forthcoming album all making their way into the set list. Nevertheless regardless of the songs, as ever it’s Lucy persona which powers the night ensuring that the more intimate gathering are all drawn into her fold.
For me, it’s her ability to transform cover songs from varying genres which truly highlight Lucy’s power. From the tongue in check cover of John Prine’s Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian, to her a capella version of Regina Spektor’s Lady, she’s able to impart her own take. Elsewhere she offers up a version of Mike Waterson’s A Stitch in Time, John Pole’s Mr Fox, and the traditional Blacksmith which is given her own 12 bar blues style. Whilst folk has a long tradition of remodelling and re-recording songs, Lucy’s decision to avoid limiting this to the traditional numbers highlights her willingness to take a new take on tradition, bringing it in to the modern era.
Elsewhere we’re treated to songs from her forthcoming release, with Ode To Whittaker Brown exploring her mother’s birth in a Nissen Hut after world war two and Summer’s That We Made with it’s bittersweet take on lost love. For me it’s Dear Julia which is one of the highlights of the night, the slight echo on her vocals and the intricate harmonies from Joy’s violin fusing together for a heartbreaking number. Elsewhere Lion explores those shot at dawn during world war 1, highlighting her ability to explore the parts of history which often get forgotten. It’s this ability to switch from entertainer to protest signer throughout the night with is Lucy’s unique talent. Like Billy Bragg, she’s able to offer both with sincerity, which leaves the set ranging through emotions without a chance to stop and pause.
Elsewhere, the interlude of Megan Henwood and Jackie Oates highlights the folk clubs ability to fuse new voices. Having met through the fold of the club, their vocal blend flawlessly leaving me only to question why the collaboration hadn’t formed sooner. With a beautiful rendition of Paul McCartney’s Junk and and equally passionate version of Brian Bedford’s Wings, like Lucy they confirm their capacity to reimagine older songs. Nevertheless it’s their version of Chemicals from Megan’s forthcoming album which highlight that the pair are another set of emerging voices on the folk scene, with the capacity to delight audiences of all ages.
In short, tonight makes it clear than away from the cross over folk that’s able to break through to commercial radio, there’s a group of talented young musicians inhabiting the folk clubs of the UK. Jointly they’re ensuring that the tradition of British musical culture remains alive, whilst also giving it a subtle shove away from the desire to offer continual reworking of traditional numbers. Instead, they’re able to fuse the tradition numbers with contemporary songs and sounds in a way that’s ensures their sets are both captivating and accessible in equal measures.