Vic Allen is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Norwich, making a name for herself in the flourishing UK new-country/folk scene. This set of four songs is a follow-up to ‘The Missing Piece’ EP from 2016. Opening track ‘Quit’ is a melancholy tale of the end of a relationship, woven through with resignation and reality. The gentler guitar work in the verses steps up into the sweeping but controlled chorus and the video partly filmed on the vast and strangely empty beaches of the Norfolk coast symbolises better times now gone. ‘Bittersweet’ is affecting in its deceptive simplicity, with some subtle vocal harmonies.
The title track is all about escape into the wide open spaces and an unknown future, a preferable alternative to a life trapped ‘Between The Lines’, set to a more conventional US country sound of instrumentation and vocal stylings than the rest of the EP. It is a fine soundtrack to the road-trip video that accompanies the music. ‘Kids’ is Vic’s best vocal performance, full of heartfelt mellow nostalgia for lost time over counterpointing guitar figures and a haunting hookline.
It is an impressive EP, four contrasting tracks that showcase Vic Allen’s expressive voice and songwriting potential.
Three upcoming acts from the Momentum funding programme in the converted church that is Norwich Arts Centre. First on was Love Ssega, originally part of Clean Bandit, he now records polyrhythmic funk and soulful commentaries on modern life. Tonight his full band were stripped back to a subtle single electric guitar, this was an empathetic accompaniment to his strong voice and winning personality.
Hannah Peel is an amazingly talented solo performer, dressed in a white flowing outfit, surrounded by keyboards and conjuring extra sounds and effects from violin, a music box and her voice she takes herself and the audience to another plane. ‘All That Matters’ is a show-stopper, even better than the recorded version.
Back projections of her parents’ wedding video from 1978 seem timeless as the gorgeous and melodic ballad ‘Tenderly’ builds to a crescendo. I’m not sure quite what ‘Cars In The Garden’ is all about but it is a fine and memorable song. She ended the set with the epic ‘Foreverest’, an electronic spectacular; more evidence that Hannah is a creative force to be reckoned with.
Musical free spirit Mary Epworth has just released her second album, ‘Elytral’ (..relating to the wing cases of a beetle…) and tonight with a four piece band she enhanced the recorded versions of many of the tracks, with industrial bold beats, plenty of percussion, free-flowing saxophone and deep, deep bass synthesiser; it is a heady mix.
At times sounding like a modern version of ‘Being Boiled’ by the Human League but with Mary’s voice floating and yearning over the music she has created a sound all her own. This is most evident on ‘Me Swimming’, an extended, echoing piece with haunting hookline. ‘Last Night’ has a more ambient experimental start then a cacophony of synth crashes in like distorted sirens.
…..and the music disappeared upwards into the high rafters of this superb venue….
Describing themselves as “a righteous quartet of musical adventurers”, The Magic Es are part of the Norwich music scene.
This impressive four track EP is rooted firmly in a pure, unadorned sound, with strong influences from bands such as the Who. Opener ‘Headrush’ starts with a simple guitar figure and lonely vocal but then a great bass sound rolls in and the track gradually builds. The production gives a very good ‘as live’ sound which I am sure would be even stronger in a cramped and dedicated music venue. ‘Running Through’ has a more country-rock feel with vocals from Pete Thompson having a yearning and strained quality similar to Roger Daltrey.
My favourite song ‘Melody Jane’ has a garage-band simplicity, but that can be deceptive, all of the tracks on this EP have surprise middle sections, snatches of guitar solo and many other deft touches. The more epic soundscape of final track ‘Cellar Door’ is driven by acoustic guitar and a cryptic vocal, finally fading into an electronic coda.
This is a confident debut EP, it needs to be played loud. Very loud…