Kirsty Merryn, Kitty Macfarlane & Emily Mae Winters - Green Note, London (18th July, 2017)
LCM LIVE REVIEW
- Line-up: Kirsty Merryn, Kitty Macfarlane and Emily Mae Winters (trio) - Triple header "Estival"
- Location: Green Note, Camden
- Date: 18th July, 2017
- Reviewed by: Gary Smith (LCM)
- Photo Credit: Mike Watts
Organised as a folk music celebration for the beginning of summer, “Estival” brought together three of the very talented 'fast rising' young stars of the UK Folk word. All very different in their unique styles but very complimentary. A perfect match.
This triple header was opened by Kirsty Merryn, who organised the event. Kirsty is a London-based singer-songwriter whose music is heavily anchored in the folk tradition, but with influence from her background in jazz and classical music. Kirsty who has a pure crystalline vocal, become a regular on London’s folk scene, delighting the crowds with her delicately introspective piano based songs and sophisticated musical style, which are balanced beautifully by an intimate and finely observational lyrical content. Kirsty is currently working on her debut album which is a collection of stories about inspirational women, supported with funding from the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). It's produced by the award-winning Gerry Diver (Sam Lee, Lisa Knapp) and will be released later this year. The album will also feature the talents of award-winning musicians Steve Knightley and Luke Jackson.
Kirsty's set begun with the tradition folk song 'The Blacksmith,' a cautionary and universal tale that men are not to be trusted, especially the much maligned Blacksmith. Her version was slightly slower with a more jazzy feel, but it worked very well. Celebrating the life of the author Jane Austin 'Love in A City Room' taken from her 2013 debut EP 'Just The Winter', explores the practical side of love in a unromantic age. 'The Fair Teamaker of Edgware Row', is a new track on Kirsty's debut album, written about another inspirational woman, Emma Hamilton the mistress of Lord Nelson. It was the song which Kirsty said started the theme of the new album project. We turn to Kirsty's family for her next inspiration 'The Pit and the Pugilist'. It's based on he great grandfather Tommy Mitchell, who won a major boxing match and received a gold watch as his prize.
Murder ballads are a staple of Folk music and unusually but very apt was Kirsty's next choice 'The Outlandish Knight', where the heroine survives to tell the tale, unlike the unfortunate Knight. Another taster of the new album was 'Forfarshire'. a duet with Show of Hand legend Steve Knightley. Deputising on the night was special guest Claude aka 'Alex Alex'. The song is based on the life of Grace Darling an English lighthouse keeper's daughter, famed for participating in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked 'Forfarshire' in 1838. It also explores the life of her father William. Kirsty will be touring with Show Of Hands in the autumn. She completed her classy set with the unaccompanied 'The Birds Are Drunk', another folk murder ballad, this time based on a Persian poem.
Next making her Green Note debut was Somerset based singer-songwriter Kitty Macfarlane. Kitty’s songs are charged with a sense of place, more often than not her home of Somerset. As well as the release of her debut EP 'Tide & Time', Kitty has been on a national support tours with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman and Blair Dunlop. Her EP received outstanding reviews and national airplay on the BBC Radio 2 folk show as well as other regional BBC radio shows across the UK and features Sam Kelly (co-producer), Jamie Francis, Lukas Drinkwater, Ciaran Algar and others. Kitty was also a BBC Young Folk Award semi-finalist in 2015.
Kitty started her set with an unaccompanied song "The Folk Of The Sea", about the 'Sea Morgans' who are a group of fabled sirens in the Bristol Channel. Inspired by the floods in Somerset and valuing intangible things and well as the tangible, was the central theme of 'Man, Friendship'. Next in the build up to the next song Kitty talked about her love of nature, a local badger who comes into her garden and her mothers quest for the perfect family Christmas card. One of my favourites in the set was the beautiful 'Lamb', which is based on a William Blake poem. The very topical 'The Glass Eel' was next discussing the flux, flow and motion of human migration and its barriers both natural and man-made. The title track of Kitty's debut EP 'Tide & Time' about the Northern France fishing industry highlighted her rich storytelling ability. Another favourite was 'Wrecking Days' based on a documentary of two Padstow beach wardens and beachcombers, continuing the theme of constant movement and current. The final song of the set was Kitty's very popular cover of Tim Buckley's 'Song To The Siren'.
Last but not least was Emily Mae Winters and her very good trio Jasmine Watkiss on fiddle/backing vocals and John Parker (Nizlopi) on Double Bass. It was only their 2nd gig together, but you wouldn't have noticed. Emily is a little more Americana leaning than Kirsty or Kitty and she has an added dash of Irish Folk. Born in England, Emily grew up Clonakilty, County Cork, where a love of acoustic music was nurtured and encouraged by the local scene and Emily developed a taste for live performance. Influenced by the sounds of traditional and contemporary Folk, Celtic, Country and Americana music, she learned to play the guitar, piano and whistle and began playing local music festivals . A return to London in 2009 to study History at The Royal Holloway saw her begin to flourish as a songwriter and in 2012 she was offered a place to study music and theatre at the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD). From an early age, Emily also developed a deep love of poetry. After graduating she performed in numerous theatre productions across the UK whilst continuing to enter songwriting competitions and gigging in and around the heart of the acoustic and roots scene in London, quickly establishing herself as a writer and performer to be reckoned with. After completing her studies, that connection led to Emily working at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden and at Keats House Museum, Hampstead Heath. Emily is now based in Cambridge.
Emily's set opened with her lovely cover of Gillian Welch's 'Go On Downtown'. A Ben Miller cover 'Sun Is Gonna Rise' was next choice, recorded recently by Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage on their excellent duo album 'Before The Sun', in keeping with the summer theme. Emily was the special guest at their album launch gig. We were treated next to a new and yet unrecorded song 'How Do You Fix A Broken Sun?', before some relationship and dating advice. Could there be a new market for 'Folk Tinder'? Another new song followed the very uptempo and catchy 'WIldfire'. Then we had a five song mini set from Emily's debut album 'Siren Serenade' released in April including 'Blackberry Lane' a song about Emily moving from London to Cambridge, the very upbeat 'The Ghost Of The Pirate Queen' inspired by Grace O'Malley, the lovely 'As If You Read My Mind' and the love song 'Miles To Go' a finalist in a UK Songwriting contest. The set closed with the wonderful award winning and one of my personal favourites 'Anchor'.
For the very well deserved encore Kirsty, Kitty and Emily combined for a fantastic off-mic a capella version of 'Pleasant and Delightful'. I really loved the harmonies on this one. It will be interested to see what the future holds for this very talent trio. We hope it includes future projects together.