February 16, 2017
Kings Place, London
“It’s got a little bit of a soul and blues edge”
When you can slay an a capella like Emily Barker can, it would be a shame to start a show any other way in a venue with such pure acoustics. Spine-tingling stuff.
Like Sister Goodbye, Precious Memories is already a mainstay of the live show. Several other new songs that have surfaced during Barker’s recent sets were showcased to best effect. No. 5 Hurricane and Over My Shoulder were especially chilling with the clarity of the hushed, soaring space.
It’s the delicate, measured songs that she’s previewed until now. The “new, new, new, new songs” are smoky and bold. Different, to be sure. But that’s Emily Barker, the folk-pop-blues-soul-Americana-country-rock singer, for you. She’s never been one to rest on her laurels. Or to rest at all – more on that later.
To be clear, I see Emily Barker more than I see my friends and these songs were so new that even *I* hadn’t heard them before! Black and White Video, in particular, seems to be one to listen out for on the new album. Barker dances in and out genres at the best of times, same with venues, and perhaps some of these gutsy numbers would be better suited to The Borderline. Still, the sedated seated crowd here murmured their approval.
It wasn’t just an onslaught of new songs from Barker and the band – including the support star Pete Roe, and Lukas Drinkwater who you may remember from playing double bass for basically everyone.
Together they also wheeled out “the hits.” It was great to welcome back Little Deaths and Dear River alongside perennial favourites like Letters and Nostalgia.
With an extensive tour of Germany, a quick run around Western Australia and who knows what else to cram in before the release of the album Sweet Kind of Blue on May 19, it’s no wonder she’s tired. How best to approach constant fatigue? Taking on extra work, of course! The night before the show, she casually wrote an article for The Guardian to a tight deadline! Classic Barker.
Visit emilybarker.com for details of the new album and tour dates.
“This song is for anyone in this life who has not had any heating or any money”
Emily Barker’s band mate Pete Roe was self-effacing when he stepped into the solo spotlight: “Emily has persuaded me to play a few songs.”
There was no need for lowered expectations. He won the crowd over with his easy way, joking about the first play of a new song being a “world premiere.” Vocally, Roe ranged somewhere between Bob Dylan and Sorren Maclean. He shared stories of struggles and daily disappointments with a wicked sense of wordplay; kudos for rhyming cosmos with glasnost!
Fitting with the lyrical journey through world events and literary flights was sound rich with palimpsests and percussive acoustic playing drifting through the darkened venue.
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