Saturday, 26 October 2013

Kim Lowings and the Greenwood - Katie Fitzgerald's, Stourbridge Thursday 24th October 2013

The talents of Kim Lowings were first discovered around six months ago when she played a supporting set for Jess Morgan at the very venue of this evening’s gig. In the interim period since that discovery, Kim has recorded a brand new EP to follow up her full length debut album THIS LIFE and her short set at the end of summer Moseley Folk Festival was captured in this site’s review of that event. However this show hosted by the Stourbridge Folk Club in the cellar bar of Stourbridge’s Katie Fitzgerald’s pub has long been planned as her flagship night to showcase the new release amongst a hometown gathering. The resultant packed room heralded the evening a complete success and her magical talent to interpret traditional music and seamlessly blend in original material was there for all those present to witness and thoroughly enjoy.

Kim, a fervent advocator of young performers establishing themselves in the traditional music scene,  uses the collaborative status of her band known simply as the Greenwood to promote her favoured music style and this evening’s ensemble added  considerable value to her own impressive vocal contribution and traditional instrument playing. Switching between mountain dulcimer, shruti box and straightforward acoustic guitar, she eased through a two set performance which drew on a wide range of material from a variety of sources with a nod to songs originating on either side of the Atlantic.

A beautiful unaccompanied version of ‘The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood’ opened the first half of her twin sets and the circle was completed around an hour and half later when the band quietly departed to allow Kim to close with a stunning version of ‘The Parting Glass’. Having experienced The Wailin Jennies end their show with this classic traditional Celtic song a few years ago, a comparison to the vocal talents of Ruth Moody is no meagre analogy. For the rest of the performance, the band played their commendable part led by the delightful fiddle playing of Ami Oprenova and the co-support of Andrew Lowings on guitar, bouzouki and bodhran. All good bands need to be kept in check by a rhythmic engine room and this was successfully steered by Tim Rogers on Cajon and double bassist Dave Sutherland. Local Birmingham singer-songwriter Chris Cleverley, who was seen earlier in the year opening for Cara Luft, provided the evening’s backing vocals on selected tracks like he did on the video of ‘Annie Laurie’. This Scottish traditional song features on the new EP titled DEEPEST DARKEST NIGHT and opened the evening’s second set.

Amongst the highlights of Kim’s song writing skills was the highly enjoyable ‘Off to Sea’, a tale of a young woman having to endure losing her loved one to the military service of his country and ‘The Allotment’ dedicated on the evening to her grandparents. The latter has been available as a free download from the Fatea website as part of their showcase sessions but at the time of writing this would be available for just one more week. Although Kim is deeply rooted in English traditional folk music, there was an occasional nod to songs across the pond with a version of the much interpreted ‘Shady Grove’ and a cover of The Be Good Tanya’s ‘The Littlest Birds’.

The organiser and host of the Stourbridge Folk Club, Sunjay Brayne played a short set of high quality finger pickin’ interpretive blues to open the evening but was humble enough  to sideline his own fine skills to allow Kim the full spotlight on this excellent evening of local roots talent. While it has to be acknowledged that English traditional music has not often found a home in this blog, perhaps Kim Lowings and the Greenwood are about to pioneer a change in providing a catalyst for more coverage of this genre of roots music. While the live and recorded offerings are both unreservedly recommended perhaps the biggest compliment to Kim is the temporary diversion she has provided away from this blog's transatlantic inspiration and created an intrigue to investigate what is happening on your doorstep.

Set list: - The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (cover): Did You Ever (original): Drifting Point (original): Deepest Darkest Night (original): Phoenix (original): This Life (original): Off to Sea (original): The Cruel Mother (Traditional): Alfrick (Original): The Wonderful Mr Clark (original): Annie Laurie (traditional): The Blacksmith (traditional): The Allotment (original): The Devil and the Ploughman (traditional): The Bonny Labouring Boy (traditional): The Littlest Birds (cover): Shady Grove (traditional): The Begging Song (traditional): The Parting Glass (traditional)

Kim Lowings & The Greenwood - Annie Laurie from Kim Lowings & The Greenwood on Vimeo.

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