The Soul Collective- 28th January 2013

The Soul Collective are signed to Room 2 Grow which was founded in March 2012. I have listened to a number of tracks which are a blend of soul and hiphop, driven by the voices of Tristan Pennewell and Joe Walton who also write the lyrics.I expected urban grit but instead got a collection of tunes softened by a range of percussion and horns amongst other instruments. Voices meld and complement effortlessly, enhanced by delicate musical touches, catchy rhythms and horns that give a yearning poignancy. The lyrics are clear, revealing a rap commentary that ranges across a range of experiences, particularly of love and beauty. ‘Midnight Murder’is a particularly effective song, simple but powerful and the beautiful ‘Till the end of the Line’ for me encapsulates the skill of perfectly matched vocals and music. The accompanying video is well worth a watch as well.

Lost Without Cause : ‘Revival’ Ep: 31st October 2017

Lost Without Cause are a 3 piece band who have recently released the 4 track Ep ‘Revival’. 4 tracks can normally give only a taster of what a band intends but this Ep has managed to take one relationship and analyse it from four different perspectives.The focus is a tangle of emotions, intensity, loss,revival and renewal subtly shaped through the sheer intelligence of the lyrics, highly charged images that are personal and yet also universal.The music simply underlines and enhances the emotion rather than attempting to control it, resulting in an energetic and solid sound that can also be delicate when required. There are elements of Snow Patrol and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong but this is a thought provoking and perceptive Ep that stands on its own merits. More please!

Martin Simpson Colston Hall 18th October 2017

What an amazing night. Simpson created a spellbinding evening ; even he felt the magic, commenting that there was a unique vibe and energy in the room. He’s also very approachable. My husband was talking to him about the last time we’d seen him at The Convent in Woodchester. Sadly, he hadn’t enjoyed the evening there very much, for reasons that most of us who know The Convent’s latest history will sympathise with.The usual banter and anecdotes helped to flesh out the life history of the songs, some amusing, the pigeon who fell off a branch when confronted by a red kite ( the bird) and some distressing ( his mother’s dancing shoes)All in all, a very special evening from a very special musician.

The Black Feathers – Stroud Sub Rooms 14th September 2017

Sian Chandler and Ray Hughes aka The Black Feathers are currently taking the ‘Holy Water’ tour across Britain. The last time I reviewed this remarkable duo was at The Convent in 2016. Since then, they have released an EP to add to their repertoire. Their songs draw on past experiences reflecting a challenging lifestyle. A tour of the USA  enabled them to  refine and augment ideas and influences that underpin songs that carry a weight of darkness and unhappiness with a sprinkling of hope. Make no mistake, these are songs to lacerate the soul, as felt in the extraordinary power of the track ‘Holy Water’ breathtaking in its juxtaposition of ideas. There is a genuine authenticity in the recollection of pain experienced and remembered which is then shared through anecdotal narrative.What saves the whole performance from collapsing under its own weight however, is a perfectly judged balance of where and when to add a lighter touch such as adding cover versions of songs like ‘Spirit in the Sky’ or ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ or appreciating Sian’s dry sense of humour.The audience on Thursday was enthralled in every sense of the word, literally held in thrall through exquisite, shimmering harmonies and guitar work that ranged from dangerous to delicate so that applause at the end of each song felt almost intrusive.Thank you Sian and Ray for a thoroughly enjoyable  evening that drew people of all ages together  –  including their youngest fan – a little girl of 18 months.