Tuesday, 27 February 2018

GIG REVIEW: The LYNNeS, Kitchen Garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Monday 26th February 2018

On the eve of the ‘beast from the east’, it was a more a case of ‘best from the west’ as The LYNNeS teamed up to bring a blast of Canadian country-folk to the shores of the old country. You do not want to mention the cold too loudly in the company of a couple of Ottawa residents, but they did everything in their midst to warm the hearts of a Birmingham crowd fine-tuned in seeking out distinguished music. Maybe the confab to generate the name that would herald Lynne Hanson and Lynn Miles as a recording duo did not last too long. However, on the evidence presented this evening, the legacy is set to hang around for quite a while.

The two singer-songwriters are an amalgam of comparisons and contrasts, yet so united when it all boils down to penning the dedicated song. Before this collaboration formalised, song co-writes had accrued and it was a natural step to wrap a bunch of them into a full record. HEARTBREAK SONG FOR THE RADIO emerged as the accumulation of their efforts and it was a privilege to listen to most of this album in the confines of the Kitchen Garden in pure unfiltered attentive mode.

The pair complemented each other serenely on stage, with the duality of analogue and digital being an apt suggestion from the artists themselves. Lynne Hanson is the upfront mover of the duo, using all the skills of her perceptive approach to overseas touring and innovative interaction in getting her music to market. Indeed, Lynne has toured Europe on multiple occasions in recent years and built a decent following since heard first as Gretchen Peters’ opening act around a decade ago.

Hugely acclaimed, and viewed by many as legendary, Lynn Miles has a pedigree to tip your hat to, with Junos, Grammys and a multitude of successful album releases to her name. There was no mistaking the poise and class on show this evening, fully exemplified in the charisma, vocals and magnitude of the gift-wrapped song. Whether in vocal harmony, the creation of valuable space or blending country twang from the Gretsch with quintessential acoustic folk, the art of collaboration was out in full force.

The nuances, craft and spirit of the new album did not require the audience to hold prior knowledge as the elegance of each song drifted out with immediate ease. Starting with ‘Recipe for Disaster’ and ripping through another seven tracks including the impressive ‘Dark Waltz’, the riveting ‘Blame it on the Devil’ and the precisely synchronized title number, the songs emanated an appeal of seemingly being around for ages.

Of course, this was exactly the case for some of the solo material Lynn Miles decided to share on the evening. The nineties were revisited for a rendition of ‘You Don’t Love me Anymore’ and the breadth of association and influential appeal was laid out for all to hear in the gorgeous ‘Black Flowers’. ‘More’ and ‘I Give Up’ completed the solo quartet, to briefly sample what the fuss is all about.

Without any hint of competition, Lynne Hanson rose to the occasion when sharing her songs. The whole style and demeanour was a touch toned down than when she fires on all cylinders with the band, leaving songs like ‘River of Sand’, ‘Broken with You’ and ‘Cecil Hotel’ to shed more light on the intricacies of the writer. The choice of ‘Got to Have Rain’ had serious precedence to be the closing track on the evening and our two protagonists took the hard to resist route of unplugging and capturing the true essence of the intimate gig.

Across the pair of sets, which ran the show time close to a couple of hours, there was an unbroken string of outstanding songs filling the venue with an air of mutual affirmation. In protracting the wares of The LYNNeS with such a large degree of panache, Lynne Hanson and Lynn Miles have created a mini entity that brims with high quality. Beauty can advance from different angles and tonight it emerged starkly to seal an unblemished parade of live music. 

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