Saturday, 5 January 2013

Live Review - Fresh Local Talent Showcase

Where: Raven Hotel Corby
When : Friday 4th January 2013

Organised by leading singer songwriter and promoter, Northampton-based Hannah Faulkner, this event perfectly highlighted the wealth of young and emerging acoustic talent that this county has to offer.

Hannah Faulkner
 And it was Hannah herself who opened proceedings with her very own version of the classic Wham! seasonal favourite, Last Christmas. In just over 3 minutes she proved exactly how she has earned her stripes and shows how it should be done as she came sprinting out of the blocks and effortlessly put in a confident and flawless performance. Playing to her undoubted strengths, Hannah let the song do the work and allowed her trademark powerful, soulful vocals take centre stage setting the bar high for those that followed...
★★★★☆  (4.5 out of 5)

First up was Josh Bateman...

Josh Bateman
And for those of you old enough to have heard of Scott Walker, Josh's vocal performance and delivery is very much in that mould. Quite theatrical and haunting. I was also reminded of Bryan Ferry and hints of Morrissey in this splendid laid back set. Delivering an excellent down tempo version of the classic Frankie Valli (or Andy Williams if you prefer!) song "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" and an irrestible, clever re-working of Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love". If I was being critical I would say that the performance lacked a little confidence but it didn't tarnish my enjoyment. Overall a good solid performance.
★★★☆ (3.5)

                                        Will Rogers...

Will Rogers
Up beat from the very first down stroke, Will performed his first song, the self-penned "More", with the energy of a runaway train. Will made excellent use of his loopstation, integrating it seemlessly allowing him to create layer upon layer of vocal harmonies and counter melodies. No more so than on a spellbinding, acapella version of "Wayfaring Stranger". Will's likeable, breezy personality shone throughout this well balanced, well executed set. Despite the occasional prolonged silence between songs this was a very solid, polished performance.
★ ★ ★ ★

                                          You Me Us...

You Me Us

Comprising of singer songwriters Jasmine Burns and Morton Piercewright, this duo delivered their unique blend of folk and pop with grace and humour. Jasmine's heavy, gospel tinged folk vocals, more Kate Bush than Katy Perry, are both challenging and seductive in equal measures, the perfect foil to Morton's more upbeat delivery. This fledgling partnership have great on stage chemistry and a challenging musical style which is original enough to set them apart from alot of other acts on the circuit. A refreshing change from the endless gamut of Ed Sheeran clones! Although they were obviously nervous, they made a good recovery and put in a well received and enjoyable performance. Personally I would like to have heard a couple more up-tempo numbers but that's just me!
★★★☆ (3.5)

                                        Jen Dobson

Jen Dobson

A talented singer-songwriter takes to the stage and announces her arrival with a musical "punch in the air". Jen plays every chord and sings every refrain with the conviction that this moment is all that matters. Every verse is delivered with an understated confidence. It is this confidence that gives her the ability to own the stage. A great performance with no gimmicks. Proof that it pays to simply let the music do the talking.
Star quality.
★★★★☆ (4.5)

                                         George Baines

George Baines

A different class of performer. Stylish and skillful and without doubt, the most accomplished guitar player of the evening. George is definitely a guitarist who sings rather than a singer who plays guitar and this is more than evident in his slick chops and chord voicings. George's voice is soulful and gentle but he has the ability with the delivery of one exclaimed word to make you sit up and take notice. Listening to the performance I thought it was polished and professional and could easily imagine it on a larger stage. Visually quirky and restrained George performed with bravado without being brash. Dignified and classy.
★★★★☆ (4.5)


Brett Revell (guitar) and Laurence Holt (vocals), aka Frettlyst, round off the evening with a selection of cover versions. Proof that you don't always HAVE to perform original material to make a valid contribution and these guys proved that they are more than capable. They managed to generate a party atmosphere in an emptying room which is no mean feat. All in all it did exactly what it said on the tin. Good songs for a good time and the perfect end to a great evening. Polished and professional.

Congratulations to all the performers on the bill this evening. You did yourselves proud and I look forward to seeing (and hearing) you all again soon.


Photography by James Ruane at James Ruane Design & Photography

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Knight In Shining Armour - Dougal and Gammer featuring Hannah Faulkner.

Take one acoustic pop song, add 2 renowned hardcore producers and 1 remix later you have a solid gold dance floor anthem.

Narrowly missing out on song of the year 2012 in the Hardcore Heaven Awards "Knight In Shining Armour" is destined for big things and is sure to fill dancefloors everywhere.

It's nice also to see the hard work and dedication of songwriter Hannah Faulkner gaining recognition and being rewarded. Reward which is so richly deserved.

Phil Brookes

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sarah Carter - In Disguise

Hailing from Northamptonshire, Sarah Carter is quickly making a name for herself on the county's thriving open mic circuit as an accomplished Singer/Songwriter.

Sarah's latest offering, the 3 track E.P "In Disguise" opens with the instantly memorable "Blue". Complete with some well executed guitar that brings to mind the giants of American folk music like Woody Guthrie and the early work of Bob Dylan. The rhythm of the boxcar. Driving... This contrasts perfectly with Sarah's crystal clear vocal which is almost apologetic whilst at the same time supremely confident.

Sarah is an excellent storyteller and proof that there is a lot to be said for straightforward musical structure and well delivered vocal melody. For this is campfire music in the truest American folk music tradition yet it remains uncompromisingly British. With the lyrical wit and wry delivery style very reminiscent of The Beautiful South we are treated to a magical musical soap opera which leaves you wondering what will come next.

The title track "In Disguise" eases in with a slight change of gear with Sarah showing a more direct, semi-aggressive delivery. Almost like a female Billy Bragg. But there are no party political messages here, only the politics of love and a brilliantly understated bittersweet tale. Displaying the lyrical depth and musicality of an artist beyond her years, Sarah yet again proves that the best music is indeed, ageless.

Which brings us to "Jump" the E.P's closing track which is another slice of  mellow folk music, Sarah's voice is at it's hypnotic best as it floats, effortlessly, over the by now trademark well executed musical backing which is now augmented by some tasteful cajon playing.

All three songs flow seemlessly to make for a pleasant listening experience and with a running time of a little over 10 minutes, while totally satisfying, it definitely leaves you wanting more. Special mention must go to Stevie A. Rigsby for his sympathetic production, which showcases the songs on this 3 track E.P. perfectly, allowing them to shine.

So, what's next for Sarah Carter? With the right exposure, she could well be on the brink of a wider audience and she has indeed set the bar high for her contemporaries.

I myself would love to hear Sarah perform with a full band, and in the future who knows, maybe there will be a modern folk-rock revival.

For more information on forthcoming showcases visit her website.

"In Disguise" is available for download now and I can't recommend it highly enough. For £3 it's a bargain.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Corinne Lucy - Black

It seems more and more common these days for young female singers to either "over sing" and lose sight of melody, or put on some kind of fake accent in a blatant parody of the popular singer of the day.

Every now and then something comes along and takes you completely by surprise. Someone with the imagination and talent to buck the trend... Enter Northampton's own Corinne Lucy...

What we have here is a glimpse into the imagination of a talented singer/songwriter. Opening with a strong rhythmic drum pattern sitting on a musical bed of sparse folk brilliance.

The song is driven by a wonderful vocal performance, complete with layer upon layer of swirling, cascading harmony lines. Almost haunting in it's complexity whilst remaining resolutely direct. Lyric and melody effortlessly blending and producing hook after hook and one of the best choruses I have ever heard. FACT.

Corinne is certainly a force to be reckoned with. A modern day troubadour with old fashioned musical values and, based on what I have heard so far, a name to look out for.

Check her out for yourselves...

  Corinne Lucy - Black

And buy her amazing album, "Clockwork", here

Monday, 9 April 2012

Past Life - Jordan Herbert

Buy it HERE

From the same producer that brought us Hannah Faulkner's debut, (see below) Harley-Joe Arnold does it again.

This time with Jordan Herbert's debut single Past Life (which he co-wrote as well as produced)

Immediately we are greeted by a radio friendly vibe that's as fresh as tomorrows bread. Although it might not be the heaviest Hip-Hop joint it's certainly no lightweight throwaway either. Jordan throws down some fine rhymes, delivered with a likeable cheeky swagger as he paints a picture of modern angst as seen through a young mans eyes. The sincerity adds to the enjoyment. This is Hip-Pop my friends and we like it.

Musically supported by a well crafted mellow R&B groove the combination produces a sound and style that is as unmistakably British as Fish and Chips.

Jordan's debut album, 'Nothing More, Nothing Less', is due to drop on June 1 and if this track is anything to go by, a treat is in store.

One to watch.

Use Me - Jeff Grable

From the digital album "With Any Luck"
Buy it HERE

This track is CLASS... A rock ballad matured by years of hard work and and dedication. Jeff Grable may be the best kept secret in Rock and Roll but he is living proof that the troubadour spirit is alive and well, in Morgantown, West Virginia at any rate.

An acoustic guitar saunters in, casually. It set's up a mood of peace and tranquility and you just know that you are in for a treat. Enter stage right a voice embittered by battle, bearing the scars of a thousand songs, seasoned with a mixture of whiskey and cigarettes. You know, the Rock and Roll way. This voice could sing the contents of a detergent bottle and make them sound like a hit. This time it's singing a story as old as Rock itself, a story as old as Man. Forbidden fruit... Guilty pleasures... you know what I'm talking about...

Not only has Grable got a great rock voice, he also has a great way of injecting Soul and intimacy, with tasteful use of harmonies this is a great all round vocal performance.

But it's not ALL about the vocals. Oh no... We are also dealing with a supreme guitar player. A player with taste and control. If the first chapter in the guitarist's handbook is "Touch and Feel" then be sure of one thing, this man has done his homework... After all, this is not "Guitar Playing for Dummies"

If you do nothing else today, bag yourself a copy of this gem of a track and while you're at it check out the rest of his back catalogue. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Left Right Left - Hannah Faulkner


Hailing from Northampton, Singer/Songwriter Hannah Faulkner is quickly making a name for herself, in no small part due to her being one of the hardest working young talents on the circuit. This hard work has recently rewarded her with a place in the National Finals of Open Mic Uk at London's O2.

Taken from her debut album "Ni Ni", Left Right Left is a slice of soulful, acoustic driven pop. Hannah's powerful voice has an understated sultry quality which is showcased perfectly by this song. Hannah's thoughtful lyrics about the struggles of modern life compliment the slightly sparse musical arrangement really well and, in so doing, provides more hooks than a fishermen's convention!

I look forward to seeing and hearing what Hannah does next...