Eve Simpson is a singer-songwriter, storyteller, and collaborative community artist from South Shields and now based in Edinburgh. Written between the two places, her four-track EP All Her Strange was inspired by the playfulness of Woodstock-era Joni Mitchell and that captivating combination of honesty and vulnerability from great songwriters like Laura Marling and Carole King.
Eve Simpson:“It is a piece of work about trying to understand myself at 21, processing grief, health, heartbreak, joy and loss, and becoming a person that had two places that felt like home now.”
Combining wit, feistiness and vulnerability, one of the stand-out tracks on the EP is ‘His Euphoria’, a coming-of-age commentary on misogyny where Eve playfully narrates the trials and tribulations of being a young woman dating, dancing, and debating her way through her early 20s.
Eve told Darren’s Music Blog: “His Euphoria is a complete mick-take of the very male-dominated spaces I found myself within the music industry and university in my early-20s. Written during the first lockdown, when I completely removed myself from those spaces, it was a sarcastic reflection of how much I had to play myself down to exist within those spaces. It is a really fun song, about some very awkward and damaging environments.“
“The EP more broadly, continues along this lens of reflection, with each track honouring some very important coming-of-age moments: heartbreak, grief, and empowerment. All Her Strange as a whole is an acknowledgment of experiencing self-love, and acceptance for the first time. Of acknowledging my shortcomings, and areas of growth, whilst recognizing those integral parts of myself that I can’t change.”
The EP was produced with support from Youth Music’s NextGen Fund. A short tour in support of the EP commences on 17th April in Edinburgh.
Annie Dressner, Lucy Grubb, Dan Wilde and Luke James Williams set out this month on a six-date tour to perform as part of their songwriters’ circle. Bound by a shared love of classic songwriting, these four acclaimed singer-songwriters present an evening of song, performed both individually and in collaboration.
Between them they have amassed appearances at some of the UK’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk, Green Man and Black Deer, garnered rave reviews from the likes of Folk Radio, Maverick and Paste Magazine and received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music.
Annie Dressner tells Darren’s Music Blog:“I am very excited for this tour, going on the road with three of my favorite songwriters. The first half is going to be a songwriters’ circle situation, where we take turns singing our stuff solo — and the second half is going to be us playing each others’ songs, but as a band. I have learned bass, a (literal) drum and am playing keys for the first time in many years on stage. It’s not to be missed!”
Dan Wilde adds:“As solo singer-songwriters we’re all used to heading out on tour and being on stage alone and that this tour gives us a chance to feel like a band.”
18th March 2023 – Trowbridge – The Pump 19th March 2023 – Stroud – The Prince Albert 20th March 2023 – Cambridge – Junction 2 21st March 2023 – Maidenhead – Norden Farm Arts Centre 22nd March 2023 – Manchester – Gullivers 23rd March 2023 – Birmingham – Kitchen Garden Cafe
“Storytelling is at the heart of Duffy’s songwriting but she finds a unique angle or topic on each track that brings a fresh perspective to a common and relatable issue.” – Maverick magazine on the debut Little Lore EP
‘Birds’ is the latest single from Little Lore, the alter-ego of London-based Americana singer-storyteller Tricia Duffy, released on 2 December 2022.
With the lush instrumentation from Oli Deakin beautifully complementing Little Lore’s heartfelt vocals, ‘Birds’ came out of a visit to the Hampshire countryside, close to where Tricia grew up. With the chorus of birdsong that rang out around her providing a calming backdrop as she wrestled with some challenging personal news, all the while gently strumming her guitar with just an ageing and rather deaf cat for company, the melody took shape and the creatures around her began to inspire the lyrics.
Little Lore:“I wrote ‘Birds’ at a friend’s home in Hampshire. They live near the Hamble river, very close to where I grew up just outside Portsmouth. I had been devastated by a terrible event that had happened to someone close to me a few weeks before, which all sounds a bit cryptic, but without going into details I’ll just say I was craving some time away to be inside my head. My friends have a gorgeous black Manx cat called Scooter. Poor Scooter is rather old and almost completely deaf, but seemed to enjoy the vibrations created by my guitar. He spent my entire stay close to me, purring a lot of the time at full volume. The birds in that area are also incredible, doves, blackbirds, thrushes, woodpeckers were enveloping me in warm calming song.”
“So that’s the scene – which you can hear described in the first verse. Along with that, I was trying to challenge myself to try different approaches to song-writing. My usual process is to start with lyrics, then build harmonics and melody comes last. This time I was playing guitar – building a palate which included some gorgeous suspended chords and I started singing what I could see and what I was feeling over the top. It was one of those rare moments that songwriters become quite addicted to, when you almost lose awareness of time and motion and you’re just in the song. What seems like ten minutes later (but in reality is a lot longer) you have a song and it feels like it wrote itself. So ‘Birds’ was created.”
Little Lore is a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. You’ll want to listen twice. When you combine British wit and wordplay with cherished Americana roots, musical magic starts to happen. Based in Chiswick, west London and originally hailing from Portsmouth, Tricia Duffy started her singing career in a live covers band performing popular rock classics. Over time, however, a strong desire emerged to begin writing and performing her own material and she formed an acoustic Americana duo with fellow musician, Al Bird. Duffy & Bird released a well-received album ‘5 Lines’ in 2017 and a follow-up EP ‘Spirit Level’ in 2019. While Al subsequently decided to take a back seat from recording and performing, Tricia was keen to take things a step further. Little Lore was born. Her debut solo EP, Little Lore, was released in 2021 to glowing reviews. A follow-up single, ‘Shallow’, was released in April 2022 to similar acclaim, followed by ‘Brown Liquor John’ in October 2022. In her songs, Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds.
Production and instrumentation: Oli Deakin.
Drums: Morgan Karabel
Artwork by: Afiya Paice, a West London-based artist and designer.
Based in Worthing on the West Sussex coast, Greg Harper is a singer-songwriter whose most recent album, Vignettes, came out in September.
While the songs were mainly written during lockdown they were initially recorded as ‘bare bones’ demos comprising just Harper’s vocals and acoustic guitar. However, Harper then worked with producer and multi-instrumentalist, Paul Linale to flesh them out more fully into an album, with the latter contributing piano, guitars, bass drums and percussion.
Harper’s songwriting has long explored a variety of ecological themes, from fracking to the decline of the bee population to the loss of ancient Woodland, and this latest album is no exception.
Although it is ostensibly a song that looks back to the 1953 North Sea Floods, the impending threat of devastating climate change in the modern age is really the overarching theme. Climate Change is the key theme of ‘Gathering Storm’ on reference, Taking The Time, meanwhile, is an intimate celebration of the sounds of the natural world.
Another track, ‘The Old Boneyard’, is a tribute to the occupants of Worthing’s Broadwater Cemetery, both those who were laid to rest there as well as the flora and fauna who have made it their home. “Once lovingly maintained by James Stoner, its sexton for 27 years. Now a haven for nature, contemplation, memories and imagination,” notes Harper.
That element of local history and sense of place is another thread running through the album, too. ‘Twenty Miles From Shore’, is a song about his own uncle’s experiences aboard the HMS Wren which was sunk off the coast of Aldeburgh in Suffolk during World War Two; whereas ‘The Fire Inside’ is a celebration of the joys of heritage stream railways.
Vignettes is a thoughtful, thought-provoking album that’s been lovingly put together by Greg Harper and his musical collaborator, Paul Linale.
Now on to their third album as a duo, Tom Faia & Kate Miller have been building up a reputation for their live shows along California’s Central Coast for some four years.
Originally from the Monterey Bay Area, Tom Faia has an illustrious musical CV which, early in his career, included work with the much-celebrated rock and roll sideman, James Burton, along with the Wrecking Crew. After leaving LA, where he was signed to A&M Records as a solo artist, Faia then headed down to Nashville to hone his skills as a songwriter. As a Nashville-based songsmith, his songs were recorded by the likes of Barbara Mandrell and Dobie Gray, prior to heading back to Monterey where he continued to write. After spending several years performing solo, he teamed up with Kate Miller in 2018.
Kate Miller, herself, is a veteran of several local bands in the Monterey area and as the Monterey Herald put it: “When Kate Miller joined Tom Faia to make music things got a lot more interesting, not only in live performance but on the new album, Stay Away From The Flame.
One of Tom Faia’s songs, ‘Whole Lotta Trouble’, was used in award-winning film, A Girl, Two Guys and a Gun, seen here performed live with Kate Miller.
Released in July, the new album, Stay Away From The Flame, showcases Faia’s talents as a songwriter and his ear for a laid-back but instantly-memorable melody. With a sound based around acoustic guitar and harmony vocals, the interplay between Faia’s seasoned drawl and Miller’s warm, emotive voice is a delight, as is Faia’s harmonica-playing. Jese Diaz on bass and Vince Sanchez on percussion complete the line-up.
With musical influences that span the early rock and roll years of the ’50s and the classic era of the great singer-songwriter albums of the early ’70s, there’s a richness to this album which should find fans across the folk/Americana/singer-songwriter genres.
Art Club of Paintings is the debut album of The Electric Flea Show. Rather than a band, The Electric Flee Show is actually the pseudonym of an otherwise un-named singer-songwriter. “Unidentified, in the spirit of Banksy perhaps – or maybe just some anonymous bloke,” he writes in the accompanying press blurb.
As an album it’s got a slightly indie/experimental, lo-fi acoustic vibe to it but the songs are accessible, the melodies hummable and the lyrics thought-provoking. It’s another of those albums that was seemingly conceived during the lockdown. However, the lyrical themes were “informed but not constrained by lockdown” according to their author: thoughts of love, heartbreak, life, death and dreams for the future fill the album’s ten tracks.
The vocals have that melancholy edge in the best of that ‘sensitive singer-song-writer’ tradition but he’s got a likeable and highly engaging voice that gently draws you in. The vocals and acoustic guitar are occasionally punctuated by some slightly other-worldly special effects, vintage keyboard sounds and drum samples.
A really interesting album. I enjoyed this one. Thanks Electric Flea Show, whoever you are.
Drawing inspiration from spirituality, history, folk tales, nature and the complexities of “being human”, India Blue is a folk musician and singer-songwriter based here in St. Leonards, East Sussex.
Introduced to the piano aged five, India says she began writing songs about faeries from those very first lessons, with help from her teacher Carla Smith. Aged eleven she began performing her first ever gigs as her support act, at places like Revelation in Ashford and the Sinden Theatre in Tenterden. Then came opportunities on the festival circuit, playing at small eco, pagan and hippie festivals in 2015. Prior to lockdown she was playing around eleven festivals each summer. She was awarded winner of the Equator Music Contest in 2014, was shortlisted for Young Songwriter of the Year in 2015 and was area finalist of Open Mic UK in 2016. As well as festivals, she’s supported Jo Beth Young for her ‘Strangers’ album launch and Guy Chambers on his ‘Into The Light’ tour.
India Blue’s debut studio album, The Circus Came And Left, released earlier this Spring features thirteen self-composed songs written over a two-year period.
“The Circus Came and Left is titled from the final single, which I toyed with actually including on the album or not. It’s a very personal song, about the transience of life. But I felt in some way whilst structuring the album: this is the journey I wanted the listener to go through, as it’s the one cycle every living this also goes through (in some way or another) It was also a major reason I wanted my first solo release to be an album, rather than a single: to walk the listener through a landscape.”
“I recorded the album in the home studio of my producer and fellow musician Tom Clarkson. Recording was a heart opening experience, intertwined with cavalo nero pasta, deep yogic breaths and dances with his two-year-old daughter.”
“My favourite part of the process was recording the piano on a magnificent old Steinway in an old original Burton manor (the man who built St Leonards!) ‘We’re Free’ was the only song fully recorded in this space, it was my rendition of a Mantra, and we got it in maybe one or two takes. I feel that songs are capsules, containing the energy of their words, the time when they were written, and also recorded. I feel this album truly holds support, insight and creative power for all who listen to receive.”
While she’s mainly self-accompanied, playing piano, harp and other instruments, the album also features some talented local musicians including Bev Lee Harling (violin), Tom Clarkson (bass/electric guitar), Tom Uragallo (bodhran) and Sarah Vincent (trombone).
The Circus Came And Left is a delightful album. India Blue’s delicate yet expressive and slightly other-worldly vocal is the perfect fit for her song-writing and there’s plenty of lovely mournful piano and beautifully evocative harp to really bring these songs to life. Both Vashti Bunyan and Joanna Newsome are cited as key inspirations and there’s lots for fans of both of those artists to enjoy here.
Led by songwriter and performer Virginie Lacour-Puiboube , Laughing With The Raindrops bring the highly-acclaimed new album, Voice On Shellac, to a live setting with two dates announced for a stunning multi-media show: Impact Community Arts, Perivale, Ealing – Friday 10th June
“Modern jazz that crackles with the vintage vinyl tones of and vivid vintage imagery summoned in the sepia tones of the soulful story of Virginie Lacour-Puiboube.” – Yack Magazine
“Laughing with the Raindrops’ music never ceases to amaze me. What I noticed about their latest work is that it is very cerebral, yet vulnerable and relatable. If you are in London (UK) area, make sure to catch Laughing with the Raindrops at one, or all, of these upcoming live dates:”-Lakisha Skinner, Klef Notes
“And what a fine storyteller Virginie Lacour-Puiboube is.” – Jane Mann – London Jazz News
The Voice on Shellac show is a live performance of the album’s songs, synchronised to a black and white silent movie: Faded Prints. Inspired by Virginie Lacour-Puiboube’s family photo album, the songs evoke the lives and true stories of those displayed in the album. With the film’s cast made up entirely of children, the show can be enjoyed by people of all ages and makes for captivating family entertainment.
The silent movie’s narrative develops in tandem with the songs: Two young girls discover memorabilia in their attic. They rummage through suitcases and play games related to their findings. Starting with a “peculiar” camera that “captures memories in colour”, the girls investigate the song characters’ past, through photos, letters and a record collection that contains a recording of Virginie’s grandmother’s voice on a shellac disc.
The girls also ponder about how they will use a large sum of money they have discovered in one of the suitcases. This fortune takes them on a long journey in search of the girl in the black and white dress, from the photo album. The storyline takes the audience back and forth in time, as the girls refer to the time when they first found the memorabilia two years earlier, and to how their new, now more mature understanding sheds light on the song characters’ past through decades of love, betrayal, divorce, war, travel, life…
Support comes from Lutfia, a 21-year-old BIMM student and her all-girl band promoting their recently-released EP, So Much For Summer. The EP which has been described as a ‘sophisticated collection of pop songs’ incorporates a variety of different styles, including alternative pop, pop-rock, funk and dance. Each song is unique and different from the rest but her powerful mezzo-soprano voice and deeply personal lyrics make the project seamlessly cohesive. Lutfia tells stories of teenage love, mental health struggles and nostalgia, each song recounting an impactful emotion, person or place in her life.
The evening also features Little Lore, a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. In her songs Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds. Following acclaimed work with her previous dup, Little Lore’s debut solo EP was released in 2021 to glowing reviews
About Virginie Lacour-Puiboube:
Virginie founded Laughing with The Raindrops in 2013, and their eponymous debut album was released in 2016. More recently, as she studied for an MMus in Music performance at London College of Music, Virginie focussed on the creation of narratives in song and explored the use of visual art as a combined story-telling device. Voice On Shellac was the resulting album (released on vinyl this year) and live show.
Hailing from Paris, Virginie has contributed to music projects in the UK since the late 1980s, from playing guitar in all-girl Reggae band Just Desserts and a Serge Gainsbourg tribute trio to being active on the London Jazz scene in the 90s, alongside bassist Alexander Keen and pianist Gabriel Keen, co-leading 13-piece experimental Jazz group Piano Di Lavoro, performing in London venues such as the Barbican Foyer, The Bull’s Head (Barnes), former jazz club The Bass Clef. In the mid-90s, Virginie also founded Baton Rouge, a vocal-led septet showcasing her song writing.
Laughing with The Raindrops have played at Toulouse Lautrec Jazz bar (Kennington), Map Cafe (Kentish Town), Kentish Town Arts Club, Babel Art House (Stoke Newington), London festivals, and recently premiered the show at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden.
“I was thinking about how so many men in power can let us down, whether that be politicians, princes, CEOs or the men that we trust and love”
London-based Americana singer-storyteller, Little Lore, won many, many plaudits, bags of airplay and glowing reviews for her debut EP as a solo artist last December.
“It is clear every word and every note is well thought out. The pedal steel swoons beneath Duffy’s vocals” – Maverick magazine on the Little Lore EP
The eponymously-titled Little Lore EP followed two well-received releases as part of her previous musical outfit – the duo, Duffy & Bird.
Now, Little Lore, (aka Tricia Duffy) returns with a brand-new single. ‘Shallow’ channels the spirit of Kurt Cobain, throws in some classic Neil Young influences and marries them up with Little Lore’s trademark vocals and thought-provoking lyrics to produce an exhilarating slice of Americana that really swings.
Little Lore:“I wrote this song during that big news week when it was all coming out about how Boris had attended parties at Downing Street while people were dying alone, and also that Prince Andrew was trying to avoid his day in court with Virginia Giuffre. I was thinking about how so many men in power can let us down, whether that be politicians, princes, CEOs or the men that we trust and love. So I decided to juxtapose the idea of being let down by people in power with heartbreak and this song is the result. It is probably a bit on the opaque side from a political point of view… but there are a few lines that give us some clues. When I talk about eating lies with dinner, I’m really thinking about the Six O’Clock news when so many people sit down to watch the headlines over their evening meal – we ate Bojo’s lies with our dinner. “There’s no truth, no-one remembers who said what to the man on the yacht” – we know that only a very small subsection of society can afford even a day on a yacht so that was directly inspired by Andrew (formerly known as Prince).”
“Finally, I had been reading a lot of Jeanette Winterson. In Sexing The Cherry she wrote about the impact it has on society when the King is executed. In her story, Charles II is beheaded and she describes how the entire country goes into freefall. Everything they could predict and understand is derailed in one instant – life becomes very unpredictable. The same thing has been happening in this country for a while now, with Brexit, the pandemic, the uncertainty of political power, it is impossible to predict so many things, to see the future clearly. I write: “The King is dead, and with his head futures altered, wounds are salted.” The whole song is designed to make use of a subtext style with the use of triplets where the last line is the realisation comment.”
Once again, Little Lore’s emotive vocals and compelling storytelling is complemented by stunning production and beautiful instrumentation from producer and multi-instrumentalist, Oli Deakin.
Little Lore:“Musically, I had a swing vibe in my head when I came to record the guide track for Oli to work with. He really enjoyed that idea and built on it. I hadn’t realised it at the time, but the song has no minor chords in it at all, so we discussed allowing ourselves to be influenced by Kurt Cobain as he famously rarely used any minor chords in his writing. Couple that grit with my Americana style and a bit of Neil Young influence thrown in, too, and I think we have a driving, swinging song that tells a story of the shallow coward that let everyone down.”
Little Lore is a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. You’ll want to listen twice. When you combine British wit and wordplay with cherished Americana roots, musical magic starts to happen.
Based in Chiswick, west London and originally hailing from Portsmouth, Tricia Duffy started her singing career in a live covers band performing popular rock classics. Over time, however, a strong desire emerged to begin writing and performing her own material and she formed an acoustic Americana duo with fellow musician, Al Bird. Duffy & Bird released a well-received album ‘5 Lines’ in 2017 and a follow-up EP ‘Spirit Level’ in 2019. While Al subsequently decided to take a back seat from recording and performing, Tricia was keen to take things a step further. Little Lore was born. Her debut solo EP, Little Lore, was released in 2021 to glowing reviews. In her songs Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds.
Produced by Oli Deakin (Lowpines), vocals recorded in his home studio in Ealing London. Artwork created by Afiya Paice a West London-based artist and designer.
Following his 2020 album Highfield (reviewed here), Canandian singer-songwriter, Garnett Betts, has a new album out. Like its predecessor, this latest offering Moonlight Door is another pleasingly eclectic selection of original songs rounded off with a couple of instrumentals.
“The thread of story is always central to my love of songwriting, and often the twill is spun from my observance of a friend, the village that surrounds us, or a personal event,” says Betts. “Gone Like The Wind is my telling of a friend’s life with his band-mates, who would throw their gear and a generator in the van and head out to the Joshua Tree Forest, from their regular house gig at the Starwood in L.A., to play in the desert for a day or two. Though his recounting of those days was richly detailed, I found that I could only ‘speak’ of it from the point of view of my imagined and mystified listeners in the desert.
With his laid-back country-tinged, bluesy vocal delivery and influences that take in rock, jazz and blues, Betts makes for a compelling storyteller. He’s also a fine guitarist, too. Top-notch musical back-up courtesy of acclaimed jazz pianist Karel Roessingh (piano and keyboards), Rick May (bass) and Sascha Enns (hand percussion) makes for a highly listenable package. Beautiful original cover art is provided by Lorraine Thorarinson Betts. Once again, another fine album from Mr Betts and well worth checking out.