Described as English folk royalty meets Australian soul the unlikely musical pairing of Marry Waterson and Emily Barker attracted many favourable reviews when the two released an album together A Window To Other Ways back in March this year. Following a successful tour to promote the album, the partnership is enduring and a second tour kicks off tonight in Hastings’ St Mary in the Castle.
For support, the two are joined by a more enduring (but no less talented) duo: St Leonards on Sea’s very own Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou. Now on to their fifth album together, they recently announced that they would be putting the duo on hold for a while so it was nice to be able to catch them together at least one last time. Delighting the audiences with songs such as ‘Everything You Need’ and ‘We Should’ve Gone Dancing’ from their latest album Fair Lady London, it’s good to hear that they are accompanying Waterson and Barker for the whole UK tour not just for this local gig. That should definitely win them over some new fans – even if expanding their fan-base isn’t particularly going to be their number one priority for the foreseeable future!
Waterson (of renowned Yorkshire folk family the Watersons – daughter of Lal) and Barker (Aussie-born, now UK-based, singer-songwriter) met up via a song-writing retreat and explain tonight how the spark of the ensuing partnership meant they both brought fragments of languishing half-written songs to one another and the album project emerged from there. There’s a lovely contrast between their voices, their delivery and their lyrical style – and they way they deftly draw inspiration from a whole range of musical genres from folk to jazz to country rock to bluesy soul. Having previously enjoyed both artists perform solo it is a privilege to see them work their magic on stage together tonight.
Performing songs mainly from their recent album, like the wonderful ‘Drinks Two and Three’ the two do a remarkable job bringing these songs to life. They are ably aided by two musicians who performed on the album: Lukas Drinkwater on electric and double bass and Rob Pemberton on drums, percussion and sampling.
After enthralling us with the songs they created together, the two give us one song each from their respective solo repertoires. As per a request from a member of the audience, Barker hits us with beautifully melancholic ‘No. 5 Hurricane’ from her last solo album, while Waterson delivers a breathtakingly powerful a cappella version of the traditional ‘Farewell Sailor’.
The evening concludes with the full band giving us a joyous, life-affirming version of ‘Bright Phoebus’ the title track of the ‘lost classic’ iconic folk-rock album by Waterson’s mother, Lal, and uncle, Mike. For all her gorgeous Memphis-tinged soul, Emily Barker it turns out, is a huge long-time fan of the Watersons. Maybe her and Marry might treat us to a performance of the full Bright Phoebus album at some future point?