May 3, 2018
Colonel Fawcett, London
The 13th edition of The Round Up, a songwriters’ round curated by Two Ways Home, had an unofficial theme: break-ups.
“Trying to find the stillness in the chaos of the world”
Joe Slater started out with Take Me To The Sky, a simply powerful tune with a 90s sound, performed with passion.
His second song was inspired by spending time on an island with no cars or lights: “there’s fucking nothing really,” he grinned. He went all in with the performance, which turned into a singalong and clapalong.
Slater was minimal with the commentary but there was an accidentally self-explanatory introduction for his third song: “I’m gonna slow it down a little bit, which is funny because it’s called Slow It Down – I didn’t mean it!” The song was about stepping away from the consumerism of modern life.
Wasting Away was as deep as the previous tune; Slater mused “your biggest gift is your biggest curse.”
There was just time enough for a speed round. Slater obliged with his most upbeat number. As ever, focus was on the power of his voice and his passionate delivery.
“I’m getting a bit of a reputation for myself for writing songs about breakups”
Gasoline and Matches’ Going The Distance was a deep and sassy power ballad with a secret weapon: killer smiles!
Co-vocalist Sally Rea Morris wasn’t kidding about the break-up songs. There were three in a row! Not Into Country was supremely catchy. The refrain “I’m not in the country and she’s not into country” certainly painted a picture of an ex-love’s new love.
We learned about the break-ups in chronological order, and in some detail. Morris spoke and sang about the nature of modern relationships, musing on whether exes still think of you and still have *those* pictures.
The third of the break-ups came with a strong contender for story of the night. Morris recounted the compellingly awkward situation of realising that a guy who had seemed to be “everything I wanted and more” was actually a loser. The revelation was turned into a song called Could Have Been A Love Song, which Morris performed in front of him…at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe…just before it was his turn to perform. Buuuurrrrrnnnnn!
The final song, Fool’s Gold, was motivational. Morris talked about leaving her job to focus on music full-time, encouraging “if you don’t like the situation you’re in, change it.” The crowd clapped along to the duo’s final song, driven by Steve Marks’ guitar work and accompanying vocals.
Head to gasolineandmatchesmusic.com for more music and tour dates.
“People had changed and not changed”
Jessica Pruneau from Quebec spoke about the consequences of splitting her time between Canada and the UK. Same Old Sweet Home chronicled the feeling of not quite belonging when returning after five years away from home.
Miss You Anymore was about that lightbulb moment way after the end of a relationship, when you “realise that someone you’ve missed for way, way, way too long – you don’t miss them anymore.” It had the qualities of a high-quality soundtrack song.
Pruneau joined in with the break-up song theme, and somehow managed to top Morris’ story. Fight For Us was inspired by the painful experience of being dumped. “I did not really agree with that,” Pruneau confided. The twist? They got back together; he was at The Round Up filming the show!
The Road was an aching, breaking heart sort of song that Lewis Fowler from Two Ways Home joined in on. He was particularly impressed with her vocal flips.
Like Slater, Pruneau delivered an upbeat song for the speed round at the end.
Find out more at jessicapruneau.com.
“Any sentence that you start with ‘to be honest’ worries me”
Lewis Fowler was nervous about duet partner Isi Mariee’s honesty, with good reason. She shocked a country leaning crowd by dropping the N word: “I don’t really like Nashville that much.” Controversial!
Fowler admitted to his own unexpected outburst. Meeting singer Jillian Jacqueline over tacos, he blurted out “I’ve got some videos of you on my phone.” Not like *that*, and Jacqueline wanted to see the footage, so all’s well that ends well!
They bucked the trend by starting with the song they usually close with, Push and Pull: “normally this is at the end with a mighty singalong and we’re all a bit drunk.” Fair point. Last time, Kenny Foster had been inspired by Mariee’s mum’s malapropism to turn it into a techno-inspired banger, Push and Push.
Although Mariee had preferred Austin during the pair’s recent trip to America, they’d been reminded during their time in Nashville that “writers rounds are for making mistakes.” This prompted them to perform two new songs at this round.
Suitable to the developing theme of the night, As I Leave, written with The Young Fables, was a break-up song. It described the pain of ending a relationship when lingering affection remains.They also debuted a new tune that Fowler described as their “Eagles song.”
The duo closed the night with a familiar track: “this song’s called Two Short Years and it’s as country as we get.” As ever, Mariee’s vocals in the breakdown part were sublime.