Sidmouth FolkWeek review: Lady Maisery, Sam Kelly Band and Kitty Macfarlane

Lady Maisery

Lady Maisery - Credit: Archant

This was a brilliant concert at Kennaway House – a comfortable, intimate venue.

Kitty Macfarlane, a young singer-songwriter from Somerset, opened the evening with a set of beautiful songs. Kitty is an accomplished guitarist and has a lovely voice. Her own songs are imbued with a sense of place, and the contrast between the beauty of the natural world and the damage inflicted upon it by man. This was specially evident in her expanded setting of Blake’s Lamb, where she asked if he who made the lamb could also have made Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

Kitty’s debut EP was produced by the next performer, Sam Kelly, winner of this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon award. Sam is a powerful singer of traditional and self-penned songs. The moving I’ll Give You My Voice expresses his appreciation of his Irish grandfather who passed on to him his love of traditional music. Evan Carson provided a subtle percussion backdrop and Jamie Francis played intricate and subtle banjo accompaniment to Sam’s moving rendition of If I Were A Blackbird.

Lady Maisery – Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Hazel Askew – were the last and best-known act of the show. They sing in amazing harmony, not least on their ‘diddling’ or mouth music versions of dance tunes. Rowan played a shimmering bansitar accompaniment to the folk classic Nottamun Town, Hazel added the lovely sound of the harp, and Hannah led the trio in the powerful Todd Rundgren song Honest Work. Their singing and playing really stirs the soul, especially in the lovely song Order or Chaos, written by Hazel as an expression of what might happen to the soul and body after death. Three wonderful acts!

Nicola King


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