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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: THE NIGHTS ARE DRAWING IN

So, I woke up today thinking that 21st of June is Midsummer’s Day, and as my Dad used to say the next morning, ah, the nights are drawing in now - a strange thought as we only seem to be starting summer. I was then reminded that it is officially on Monday 24th June so let’s all make the best of the daylight hours while they last. Just to confuse matters further, the summer solstice occurred yesterday at 20:51 GMT and that means today is pretty close to being the longest day.

 

None of this has anything to do with today’s musical selection so let’s get that underway and speculate no more on progressively shorter days to come.

Photo of Coming Up Roses by Emily Machan

 

In February, we made the acquaintance of Coming Up Roses, the four-piece band with origins in Singapore and who now are based in London, via the dynamic single, “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”. A self-titled EP followed in April since when the band has been active with live shows both in the UK and Europe. British dates continue in July and August with a return to Asia on the cards for the autumn. The EP embodies the common experiences of adolescence of Singaporeans Emily Sera (vocals, bass) and guitarist Darius Oon aided by their UK bandmates, Charlie Wilson (guitar) and drummer Caleb Blake.



Picked out recently by Fresh On The Net readers as a Fresh Fave, “Why” is the final track on the EP. Coming Up Roses has continued the practice of posting a very faithful live version of the studio recording. It is a brilliant example of how a song can reach fruition sonically through a combination of quieter verses, cathartic, supercharged choruses and densely reverberating instrumental passages. The closing section is simply majestic. “Why won't you let me in?” Emily pleads to a loved one who remains closed to her. Her voice soothes and takes charge in turn while the shoegazy resonance of the combined instruments is never overwrought and always the right side of inspirational.

Another act making a welcome return to this column is the fine folk duo of Christina Alden & Alex Patterson, who demonstrate a winning way of working contemporary tales into the oral folk tradition. The Norwich multi-instrumentalists and songwriters released Hunter in 2021, a 10-song collection chiefly centred around the natural world and our interaction with it. Having kept things reasonably low key with a couple of single releases subsequently, they have now put out a further song ahead of a second album in the making.



A longing for safe passage is a common theme in traditional folk song. As a contemporary song, “Safe Travels” takes you over the expanse of land and sea, across continents indeed, yet the accent is very much on those left behind rather than the journey itself. “As touring musicians, we spend a lot of time on the road so this song feels close to our hearts” the duo confides as the song reflects on how loved ones might be while they are away from them. The song is delivered with delicate assurance; a lilting banjo and guitar melody underpins Christina and Alex’s close vocal harmonies while bass and carefully chosen strings add poignancy. Multiple summer festival appearances and an extensive autumn tour await fans of this accomplished twosome.

Regular visitors here may also recognise the work of Derbyshire-based singer-songwriter-musician James Eary who trades as Debris Discs. Last November James kindly gave us a track-by-track rundown of his debut album Post War Plans, a record which drew inspiration from his grandpa’s Second World War letters and offered reflections on the impact of the past on the present. Out today is further spin-off from the long player; a solo reimagining of selected tracks recorded live at The Art Theatre, in his hometown of New Mills, Derbyshire.



Unusually for a live performance, James is alone in the grand expanse of the Edwardian era theatre along with an array of hardware instruments pulled together with midi sync and a loop pedal. The newly paired-back arrangements are designed to bring the lyrics more to the fore, evidenced by the title track above. In response to a question from his brother about his plans post WW2, James’ grandpa wrote ‘First, to be alive post war; second, a good holiday (not camping out either); third, the best thing available; fourth, look around for something better; fifth, - a wife. Short and sweet, eh?’ For one who never intended to play his music live, it is a sterling effort and one which will I feel sure lead to a return outing this time to a packed theatre.

Photo of Sarah Buckley by Bernhard Eder


Another artiste bringing out something new today is Sarah Buckley, the alt-folk songstress from Cork, Ireland. Unlike the archetype, Sarah’s musical adventure did not start as a young child with a hairbrush for a mic and a lasting dream. Music came later in Sarah’s life and since then it has been a heady rush with a debut EP, Magic Powers, unleashed in Feb 2023 followed by a second, Wind Chimes, in October. Signalling disparate influences which include Alex Turner, Matt Berninger and Julia Jacklin, Sarah is progressively making her own mark while progressing towards a further EP expected later this year.



Sarah Buckley’s new single, “Things We Leave Behind”, reads like a conversation with herself as she tries to navigate the next steps after a relationship has run its course. It is familiar ground for many a songwriter but imbued with a freshness of delivery in Sarah’s curation. Introspective yet never self-pitying, she expresses a balance between mulling over past what-ifs and continuing a degree of warmth towards her erstwhile partner, summed up in the chorus line: “Leave me with a sign / That for a moment we did rhyme.” Her characterful, airy vocal sits nicely against the slacker guitar-led backcloth employed in the song. It is a captivating combination.

I have been a fan of Guildford four-piece The Lunar Keys since first choosing the band as one of my three for Glastonbury Emerging Talent 2020 which happened despite the festival later falling foul of Covid that year. Ever since, the alt-rock band has brought out a series of individually characterful songs at sensible intervals. Each has added to an impressive live repertoire that deserves to be heard across much bigger stages. Proof that the formula is working though comes from the half million plus views and streams and over 5,000 plays from over 400 radio stations The Lunar Keys have chalked up. Out today, “Bleed” is the latest single from The Lunar Keys.



Opening with plaintive piano over a steady instrumentation build, it gives lead vocalist and bassist JC to chance to add light and shade; thoughtful and soulful in the verses and anthemic in the harmony-assisted choruses. Lyrically, an internal battle is fought to overcome a tendency to self-destruct; choosing life and knowing your real enemy inside. With a raft of charities benefitting from previous releases, the band is continuing this path by pledging to donate £1 for each of the first 250 reviews or airplays that “Bleed” receives to the Haemophilia Society, inspired by recent events and, OK, the song title. West country fans can catch The Lunar Keys live at the Exeter Cavern tomorrow, 22 June. Get there before the daylight goes!

We close today with a shout out for Flo Perlin, a highly individual singer-songwriter from London with a multi-cultural background through Iraqi and Belarusian parentage. I remember enjoying her 2021 album Characters, which was very much informed by her heritage, fondness for travel and innate gift for storytelling. and songs like “Baghdad” and “Back in Time” which vividly take you to the places she recalls in her songs. Flo has a new album out now entitled Clay. She describes it as “a metaphor for the human capacity to adapt and adjust to different experiences/challenges. Just like clay, we mould and change shapes” adding that “This album reflects my personal experiences of belonging and growth.” Here is a sample track, "Mother Tongue", and you can read a fine interview with Flo by Fresh On The Net’s Del Osei-Owusu HERE.



Comments


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 

 

Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.

 

In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.

 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Tue 16 July: Griff, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames

Wed 17 Jul: Squirrel Flower, The Lexington, London N1

Tue 23 July: Sabina Chantouria, The Bedford, Balham, London SW!`2

Wed 24 Jul: Coming Up Roses, The Social, London W1

Thu 1 Aug: 86TVs, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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