|The Black Feathers|
Musically each artist arrives on the Americana spectrum from a different perspective. The Black Feathers is heavily influenced by a folk style delivery, sprinkling a stripped back simple acoustic sound with the sparkling precipitation of gold dust harmonies. Aside from a number of studio contributions, The Black Feathers is entirely the vehicle for Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler to project the enormous depth of their talent. While being active on the circuit for a little longer in terms of shows and releases, The Rosellys hop from being the core duo of Simon and Rebecca to a bona fide band complete with drums and pedal steel, and an emerging role in backing a number of touring American artists on the shared Clubhouse roster. Musically they adopt the oxymoron moniker of British Americana and rarely shy away from a deep rooted US influence. Even going back to their duo roots for this evening’s show, Simon flitted between fiddle and guitar, while a family member played cello on a couple of songs. Needless to say, The Black Feathers was quite simply Ray’s acoustic guitar and Sian’s wonderful voice.
The Rosellys released their latest album THE GRANARY SESSIONS in the late summer days of 2015 and have spent a considerable amount of time promoting it via numerous live dates. A couple of songs from this record impressed during the fifty minutes they spent on stage this evening in ‘Asheville 1784’ and ‘A Thousand Miles’. Although The Rosellys have fleetingly crossed my path on the circuit over the last half a dozen years, this was probably the most focussed observation. Among their attributes are the evolving vocal range of Rebecca and the added diversity of Simon’s enhanced fiddle playing. The songs are generally ripe with ear pleasing melodies and this was extended to at least one new composition previewed during the evening. The profile of The Rosellys has notably increased in the wake of their tie up with Clubhouse Records and one of their upcoming high profile projects is to once again support the excellent Don Gallardo on a fair few of his UK dates this spring.
The real crux of what makes The Black Feathers tick is the intuitive harmonious chemistry between Ray and Sian. This straddles the standard and innovative, while being constantly engaging. Sian was slightly under the weather during this show, but this failed to mask the inner beauty of her vocals. The highest compliment is to eulogise how her vocals melt into each song and to categorically state that she extracts direct influence from the depth of her soul. Sian continues to develop the role of the stage voice-piece, cultivating a persona in the mould of Josienne Clarke. This slightly dark and ironic image fits perfectly with the theme of many of the songs and led to the duo covering the iconic classic ‘Spirit in the Sky’ in a creative harmony-packed gothic style. Twice Ray and Sian ditched the amplification to step off mic and complete the removal of any artificial barrier between artist and audience. The first occasion was to deliver ‘You Will Be Mine’ off their debut EP, and buoyed by this experience, duly repeated it for an encore version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’.