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Emily Mae Winters / Patch & The Giant - Slaughtered Lamb, London (08/11/17)

 Photo Credit: Keith Bache

Photo Credit: Keith Bache

One of the joys and absolute delights of the London Folk & Roots festival is their showcasing nights featuring some of best up and coming musicians in the UK. The Slaughtered Lamb, a famous music venue in Clerkenwell, played host to the series this year. On this excellent double bill were two acts which I've been been following closely for some time now, Cambridge based Emily Mae Winters and London based 'Balticana' Folk band Patch & The Giant.

It is always a pleasure to see Emily perform and this time night she was backed up by two of the finest folk string players and session musicians in the UK, two times BBC Radio 2 folk award winner Ciaran Algar (Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys) and John Parker (Nizlopi, Paper Aeroplanes) who seem to be playing on the majority on my favourite folk albums over the past few years. Having both Ciaran and JP in your band is always a mark of high quality.

Emily Mae Winters is rapidly becoming an wonderful addition to the live UK Folk and Americana circuit. With a critical acclaimed debut EP 'Foreign Waters' released in 2016 produced by the multi award winning Ben Walker and her fantastic debut album 'Siren Serenade' released in April, Emily is proving herself to be a accomplished songwriter and vocalist. Her showcase set included songs from both releases and a new song 'Wildfire' which shows great promise for future releases. 

Emily opened the set with 'As If You Read My Mind' complete with it's bright acoustic guitar and string section interplay. It's a real classic and high quality song. Brooding double bass line underpin the beautiful and award-winning 'Anchor', one of my personal favourites from Emily's debut EP. It deservedly won the folk category of the Guardian Music songwriting contest in association with Sony Music UK. Emily’s rich and pure vocal builds in intensity from gentle finger-picked acoustic guitar as her vocal is joined by wonderful string playing from John and Ciaran. Emily's love of poetry and lyrics shines through as she paints beautiful and deeply atmospheric word pictures. 'Miles To Go' is another very lovely written song and the second track from her debut EP, a finalist in last year’s UK Songwriting contest. A love song spanning across the oceans, encouraging her lover to reach out, to explore new possibilities and met her halfway. "Like a moth to flame, I still stay close to you and I will wait for you across the water, but you’ve got miles to go". 

It is also exciting to hear new music from Emily and she debuted her beautiful new song 'Wildfire' in her showcase set. 'She Moved Through the Fayre' is a traditional Irish folk song and Emily's version really captures the heart and essence. The song recounts the story of how the singer sees his lover move away from him though the fair, saying it will not be long until their wedding day. She returns at night, as a ghost, repeating that it will not be long until their wedding day, presaging the singer's own death. Another dark themed folk song disguised with a lovely melody. Also from her debut EP was 'Until the Light' a personal and tender song with sublime string arrangements which build throughout the song.  "I shouldn’t walk alone at night, I drag my heels because the morning’s now in sight. I shouldn’t wait upon the skies. Dark colours captivate these eyes until the light".

Emily can move very comfortably in style between contemporary and traditional Folk, Celtic Folk and Country music and a case in point was the sublime 'Blackberry Lane', with it's Americana feel and flow. It tells the story of Emily's move to Cambridgeshire from London. 'Siren Serenade' the title track from Emily's debut album is always a fantastic addition to her live set, with the audience providing two part rhythmic harmonies backing Emily's top-line and melody. It's very seductive and has a spiritual and gospel quality as would fit a 'Siren'. It has also has a real 'O Brother, Where Art Thou? feel about it, echoes of the temptresses of the movie Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch singing "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby".  

 Photo Credit: Keith Bache

Photo Credit: Keith Bache

To complete this double header on this night of super music at the Slaughtered Lamb were London indie five piece Patch & The Giant, this time joined by Ben Wiseman from We Used To Make Things on drums and percussion.  P&TG are a very exciting live band and are guaranteed to get your toes tapping and singing along to their infectious music. Back in February they released their debut album the imaginatively titled 'All That We Had, We Stole'. Their fresh music is a fusion of styles lending comparison to bands like US Indie folk 'Beirut', American Indie Rockers 'The Decemberists', a harder-edged 'Keston Cobblers Club' and Brighton's very own folk-rock band 'The Levellers'. It has a Irish folk-rock feel coupled with an almost eastern European influence at times, which we would like to call 'Celtic Balticana'. The album is full of rousing anthemic songs interspersed with some dark brooding and personal songs. It's complemented by Angie's accordion, harmonica and trumpet, Nick's bass and string playing from Gabriel and Derek. It's Luke's distinct vocal which give the album it's raw Celtic sounding edge. Their set included songs from the debut album and a cover of great covers. 

They kicked off with the 'Dylanesque' harmonica intro on 'The Day You Went To Sea' launching into dark themed Irish folk. We love the chorus on this one....it's a real earworm. The rousing Irish almost punk sounding anthem 'The Beggar's Song' was next. It's always a live favourite with an instantly catchy and sing-a-long chorus. Full of energy and attitude with strong, choppy beats and soothing violins. "The price of a life is worth twice, if it's nicer than a man on a street with no name"

With it's mandolin opening the radio-friendly 'A Local Man' has a Celticana feel. A driving beat with the accordion underpinning the central melody. Performed live at one of Bob Harris's Under The Apple Tree session 'Love & War' is another reflective song. Some wonderful lyrics here as well. It's deep upright double bass added texture, mood and tone. Almost invoking a sea shanty or broadside 'The Sleeping Boat' contains a nautical theme with it's multiple references to the sea and sailing. One of my favourite P&TG songs and a real standout is 'Another Day', so I was delighted to see it included in the set. It's a wonderful big, lively and anthemic song full of high energy, a real toe-tapping live crowd favourite as well, with plenty of audience participation. This is one of songs that showcases Angie's multi-tasking abilities off simultaneous playing accordion and trumpet....Hey!!!

The reflective and gentle 'Where My Body Lies' with it's cello intertwining melody building to a full ensemble piece. It reminds me of the great Glen Hansard. This was followed by a new song 'Wood For The Fire'. The pace drops slightly for 'Flowers' another very clever piece of songwriting and yet again a real ear-worm of a chorus. Luke on lead with Angie on backing vocals. Lovely string and brass arrangement too. The song suddenly explodes towards the end with Luke's emotive vocals added extra angst and passion.  'Flowers' is one of the debut album's lead singles. The video was filmed by our good friends Marv and Ben in We Used To Make Things. Next up with a lovely cover of Bob Dylan's 'Oh Sister' first released by Bob on his 1976 'Desire' album. It started with a wonderful harmonica intro from Ange, launching into some lovely three part harmonies.

'America' the first of two encore songs is another foray into up-tempo sea shanty-style folk. A track about setting sail across the sea for America, preparing to journey into the hardships and mysteries of the unknown. "I have seen the Devil cry...I have seen the Devil sin....singing songs of you and I" . Angie's trumpet style almost gives it a Mariachi band feel. It could also be a metaphor for the band's journey in music. P&TG signed of in style with a great atmospheric cover of 'House of the Rising Sun' originally recorded by the Animals and first released in 1964.

 Photo Credit: Keith Bache

Photo Credit: Keith Bache

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