Thursday, 12 November 2015

Caddy Cooper - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Wednesday 11th November 2015

Give yourself a little treat sometime and open up your senses to the wonderful musical world of Caddy Cooper. Don’t restrict it to just listening to her pair of full length albums and acoustic EP, but widen it to attending one of her shows. They’re temporarily in their intimate phase and I’m sure your local venue would consider inviting her if they value what is true and honest about music. When judgement day arrives, Caddy need not be concerned as to the verdict and from a more grounded angle she is the epitome of talent exploitation. This superbly executed gig at the Kitchen Garden Café sealed the deal for me and hailed Caddy as a performer of immense credibility, integrity and more than the odd occasional flash of stylish panache.

Let’s start with the voice and its tremendous versatile approach to wrapping her classically trained vocals around a string of songs sunken deep in the roots inspired genres of country, folk and blues. Her guitar playing skills are not limited to the odd chord change and continual strumming, but more aligned with projecting the full depth of her choice of instrument to an anticipated audience. The holy trinity of the singer-songwriter is completed by the ability to craft quality lyrics and melody with example after example found within the increasing body of her recorded catalogue. Of course all these qualities can be enjoyed on record, but the ultimate performing trait of translating your work into a stage presence exuding aura, audience connection and the chemistry to cement the art of the live re-enactment can only be found at a show. It goes without saying that all this was present in Caddy’s return to the Kitchen Garden Café and the first visit in support of her latest album OUTSIDE THE WIRE.

With a theatrical degree of exuberant effervescence, Caddy shared an enormous amount of career experience to date with many audience members who were taking a chance on a new artist. However she perfectly balances the inter-song banter with engaging degrees of humour, personal expression, informative chat and sheer entertainment. To fully appreciate this you need to attend a show, but as a taster think: entertaining the troops, strange dates, being a long time exiled Aussie in the UK and more than a touch of inference on what constitutes good country music. All this continued in the song selection which reflected material from all three of her releases and a similar number of intriguing covers.

Caddy’s heavy blues influence was evident in her decision to cover the Muddy Waters standard ‘Got My Mojo Working’ and the Big Maybelle song ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show’. The third cover was another standard in ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ which signified her passion to delve into and ultimately re-create the great song. While on the topic of lyrical competence, Caddy’s successful attempt to commit semi-folklore to immortal song was made even more poignant as this evening’s rendition of ‘Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter’ was symbolically sung of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

This was one of the key tracks from the new album and Caddy also shared a handful of other songs from this record which acted as the introduction for me earlier this year. The title track ‘Outside the Wire’ and ‘Don’t Say We’re Through’ were definitely candidates for ‘first among equals’ during the evening with the latter implying tantalising thoughts of the duet version with Paul Carella. Although the songs from Caddy’s debut album were a little less familiar, ‘Red Blooded Man’ and ‘Whole Lotta $$’ had considerable appeal. From her earlier acoustic EP, which is still available from online sources, though Caddy is temporarily out of physical copies, ‘Better Place Now’ came out tops and we even had the opportunity to glimpse into the future with the sharing of a new song titled ‘Sky’s on Fire’. This was a sultry ballad possessing all the classy substance that prevails right across her song collection. The song analysis wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the ‘Cup Song (incorporating Love You in the Morning)’. Words are insufficient to describe it so check out the video which only just starts to project the fun and also the a capella version of the song on OUTSIDE THE WIRE complete with 12 part harmony. 

At this point it is worth mentioning the opening set for this evening’s show honourably delivered by Birmingham’s own Robert Lane. Another singer-songwriter with an eye on stage presence and appeal, Robert tends to limit appearances in local venues, but is a capable performer and passionate advocate of the powerful art of song. In the true tradition of effective warm up acts, he used a John Lennon medley to lubricate the vocal chords of the audience. From his own pen, ‘Tear Drop Tattoo’ and ‘Make it Easy’ showed a degree of flair, with the latter to be found on his recent self-titled album.

There was a refreshing camaraderie between Caddy and Robert which exemplified the warmth of the evening’s atmosphere. This further embedded the satisfying appeal from attending the gig and made you continue to marvel at the extraordinary level of great music that can evolve from scratching below the surface. The abiding memory of the evening was to visualise Caddy showcasing her talents on a larger platform with all the band trimmings. This may be for another day, so let’s just feel grateful that a gathering of Kitchen Garden Café faithful had Caddy Cooper all to themselves for one golden November evening.

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