Hannah Rose Platt, Mairead and Lucy Blu

November 27, 2018
The Slaughtered Lamb
“I’ve got this weird Phoebe Buffay sexy huskiness going on”

As soon as Lucy Blu acknowledged that touch of illness, she tried to take it back. Too late! It didn’t matter, she’s gained enough of a profile that the night’s UK country/Americana crossover crowd were aware that her singing voice was no sore throat fluke.

She started confidently despite opening with a song she’d only finished writing that afternoon. Bonnie and Clyde showed promise.

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It was followed by Ready To Be Lonely which had an ‘it’s OK not to be OK’ message that was pitched just right for the increasing emotional openness of our times.

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Having said that, sometimes people are a bit *too* honest, especially when it strays into attacks on others. Roll Your Own went out to “people who like to shit on everyone else’s parade.” It had a Kacey Musgraves vibe in topic and tone, accompanied by finger-picking banjo.

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Blu’s country influences were further evidenced when she performed a cover of Willie Nelson’s Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning.

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That would have been a fine way to end her set, except she was finally able to reveal something she’d been hinting at on the socials all week. Her new single will be out in January, produced by Tim of The Wandering Hearts. So, in that context, Only Just Begun was the perfect closing song.

Only Just Begun, will be out in early 2019. Follow her at twitter.com/lucybluofficial for details. If you’re not already booked up seeing Liv Austen supporting Alexis Gerred at The Water Rats on January 12, you can catch Blu back at The Slaughtered Lamb with Vic Allen supporting Meg Lawrenson.

“No singer-songwriter on the country scene writes with Kaity Rae, said no-one ever”

Irish singer-songwriter Máiréad is making more and more of an impact on the UK scene so it’s not surprising she’s quickly got the measure of our rising talents.

Delightfully, she diligently credited every co-writer and promoted their latest releases, whether the crowd knew them well or not. Plenty of fellow Irish writers in the mix, so perhaps we’ll be seeing a Megan O’Neill collab soon!

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Supporting fellow musicians continued, albeit in a more playful way, through her relationship with guitarist, Tom Gene, who also plays with Jeannine Barry: “it’s not called Factory Song, it’s called Back Another Day, TOM!”

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Later, when an intro took an unexpected turn and a puzzled then relieved Tom joked “I thought I was getting fired in public,” Máiréad quipped “maybe he IS getting fired!”

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Don’t worry, Tom got his own back by bringing up Máiréad’s habit of mimicking the guitar line. “Face guitar” was supposed to go no further than rehearsal. Máiréad gamely showcased this ‘skill’ to much laughter all round. If only someone had recorded it ::stares at camera::

It was her endearing, conversational style that really elevated the set. There was musing on a Ghostbusters style video for Searching For Ghosts, imploring regulars to singalong (who happily obliged), and musing on the motivations behind Lately: “Could they be thinking of you? Maybe not. But maybe!”

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All this before even mentioning her powerhouse vocal, proved when she more than did justice to Cam’s Diane. “I wish it was my song,” she confided. That night, it was.

Máiréad isn’t the easiest person to find online. Take the opportunity now to follow her at facebook.com/maireadmusic/ so you don’t miss out on what she’s up to!

“Please don’t give Hannah anything else scary to read”

This recollection from Hannah Rose Platt’s mum explains a lot. Writing in to school obviously didn’t work because 10 year old Hannah wrote a ghost story that later developed into the decidedly adult number, Chanel and Cigarettes. “I tend to write weird songs,” she admitted.

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That’s our Hannah, who’s currently doing a Masters in songwriting “for fun” while simultaneously teaching at the institute that produces Kaity Raes.

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The quality of her writing (not to mention her vocals) really came out in her recent single. It’s so arresting and powerful that it needed an explanation as preparation: “I usually write character based story songs but this, unfortunately, isn’t.” All proceeds for Sorry go to Women’s Aid, so make sure you buy it here if you’re not already aware that it was the song of 2018 by far.

From personal stories of exploitation to historical versions, Platt gave us a quick history lesson about medieval times when prostitutes had to pay bishops a tax to work but were shunned in life and death, buried in ignominy at Crossbones Cemetery. Actress was written in homage to all the women who had fallen through the cracks. Like Blu earlier, this was a song Platt had only finished that afternoon. You wouldn’t know. It was incredibly professional and haunting, with a spoken word segment. “Hopefully you can still tell I’m a Northerner. Southern fairy, oh no!” she joked afterwards, in her Scouse lilt.

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Two sombre songs in a row could be pretty heavy. Platt was well aware: “enough songs about abuse and prostitution. Now for a song about the weather!” Of course, it was still Platt, so this meant we were in for a pair of socio-historic story songs about devastating natural disasters. Obviously! I Will Tell You When was based on an account from Laura Ingalls Wilder (of Little House On The Prairie fame) about a plague of locusts. When Audrey Came To Call detailed the devastation brought by a hurricane in the 1950s.

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Maybe the next songs would lighten the mood? Not exactly.  There was 1954 about dementia, then Brooklyn, New York  about Irish immigrant labourers being stranded and abandoned after building the city. Look at that, you’ve got something in your eye. Or allergies.

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Each song was an emotional rollercoaster in the best way. With lyrics like “I miss your face/I miss your laugh/I miss the faces of the children we won’t have,” can we just give her the songwriting Masters now?

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With such strong lyric-based songs to wax lyrical about, it’s important not to forget that it’s the arresting quality of her voice which draws people in. Her singular talent means she could easily hold the room on her own. Being backed up by Americana Music Association UK’s Instrumentalist of The Year Tom Collison and Freddie Draper on bass, with a cameo from Jay Stapley, were just extra.

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They were not afterthoughts, of course. As soon as Draper had fixed the lines of site on stage to facilitate “man glances” at Collison, they were perfectly happy supplying the rich – sometimes otherworldly – sounds (as well as banter and high fives).

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Still, Platt with her Hollywood golden age presence, was very much the centre of attention, and rightly so. “All the men usually assume both guitars are his,” she grinned, pointing at Collison. What a joke to underestimate Hannah Rose Platt.

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Hannah Rose Platt’s album is due out in 2019. While you’re waiting, treat yourself to her debut album, Portraits.

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