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Out of the Bedroom 667 review – Thursday 19th April 2018

Running order: Tina Louise Avery; Jim Bryce; Majk Stokes; Dog On A Swing; Sarah.T; Sonny Casey; Skip, The Android; feature act: Ali Tod.

Host for the evening was Tina Louise Avery who started off with a new song ‘Weave The Sea’. As those who follow Tina know, her songs reflect her love of water. This elegant, uptempo number featured some beautiful singing and was a welcome addition to her strong watery repertoire. I could vividly picture the old man weaving by the sea. ‘Travel Writing’, about a couple growing old perhaps not happily, was performed very pleasantly indeed. ‘Francis’ was about Francis Cadell, a Scottish Colourist who painted seascapes. This was in waltz time and was evocative of Cadell’s paintings (sample lyric: “there I’ll be seated on the chair painted red”).

The unique treasure Jim Bryce performed three memorable songs starting with ‘I’m Living Through You’. This was in a country and western style and seemed to be about god / the life force living through you… or was it about a parasite? A laid back (mostly) instrumental break with Jim singing “rumpa-ba-di-di-da-da” kept us audience members amused. ‘Your Birthday Song’ was dedicated to those in the audience with a birthday – there was one, at least. A bit of a p-take of The Proclaimers, and Scottish culture in general, borrowing the tune of a certain song about walking for miles often sung by Scottish football fans. As Jim said, a risky one to play in their home territory of Leith! Jim’s very short final song was about what he imagined the disciples did after Jesus was crucified.

We welcomed Majk Stokes back after his stint halfway across the world at the Adelaide Fringe, the second biggest fringe festival in the world after Edinburgh. Majk started out of his comfort zone with some gangster rap, featuring a protagonist based in the north of England. Unfortunately the song was abandoned halfway through as more time practicing in the bedroom was required. On safer territory, the more familiar ‘I Spied a Merry Maiden’ was based on a relationship which started at the Beltane Fire Festival. An amusing tale of a confident woman who was not all she seemed. ‘Beetroot-Oo’ was Majk’s one love song, using a beetroot as an analogy for love. Majk successfully achieved audience participation with the line “bring back my beetroot to me” to the tune of well-known Scottish folk song ‘My Bonnie’.

The equally welcome Dog On A Swing returned after a much longer hiatus than Majk and started with ‘Overthought’. A very confident performance of this song from his 2017 album ‘Autonomy’, I thought Ed sounded stronger than ever. The romantic ‘She Kissed Me’, from his ‘After Work’ EP, is among the best pop songs I’ve heard from an Edinburgh artist in recent years. A joyous, vivid, honest, articulate lyric about the early stages of romance and a great tune. In ‘Expectations’, Ed said he was “ready to carry this weight / expectations are high… I think I can”. A very distinct artist who puts a great deal of thought into his music which gives a rich, cathartic experience for the audience. Great to have Dog On A Swing back and I’m pleased to say that he will be our feature act for OOTB 668 on 3rd May.

After the break came the first debut of the evening from Sarah.T who was celebrating her 23rd birthday. Sarah is studying music and all that practice and immersion in music were obvious from her strong performance. ‘Facing A Box Wall’, played on a petite acoustic guitar, was about being trapped and badly treated and not being able to fit in. I think many musicians, and others, can relate to that message in dense, stream of consciousness lyric. There was a ‘70s feel, reminding me of Rickie Lee Jones and Stevie Nicks. Sarah wrote ‘Newcastle’, about the place of her birth, at the age of 14 and it sounded contemporary and classic which shows how good a songwriter she has been for years. ‘Broken Wing’ featured a repeated guitar riff with a picturesque lyric and no chorus as such which appears, on tonight’s evidence, to be Sarah’s trademark style. And a very enjoyable, pleasant style it is.

Second and final debut of the evening came from Galway’s Sonny Casey. An engaging, warm performer, Sonny’s song ‘Lonely On The Road’ was about someone she used to travel with. Sonny has a charming alto singing voice and a guitar that has clearly been loved and well-travelled! We were lucky to have Sonny as she travels a lot and only arrived in Edinburgh the previous day. Very softly spoken in between songs, she admitted “I don’t feel brave enough without my guitar”. ‘Blue’ was about dreamers who “pass the night every shade of blue”. When this finished, one audience member simply said “wow” which summed up the song nicely! ‘Other Side of the Moon’ was about saying goodbye to someone. Sonny’s vocal was soft while also being authoritative and mature. Sample lyric: “I’ll see you on the other side of the moon”. Great debut… will we see traveller Sonny at OOTB again?

Skip, The Android experimented with some new material this evening as evidenced by the song sheets required. Skip’s first song was an epic, bleak portrayal of a dystopian future which had a deep hypnotic quality. The song swayed back and forth from discordant to melodic with a certain agreeable quiver in Jonas’s voice. Song two was a shorter, softer song reminiscent of Radiohead/slowcore and was a mature piece of songwriting with a dense, often impenetrable, lyric. Skip is an artist true to his craft, there is no discernable attempt at mass market commerce in his music. A new song ‘Hurts The Same’ was positive yet melancholic, both joyful and painful. The intensity and slow pace of Skip’s music draws the listener in more closely and his artistry is omnipresent.

The feature act this evening was the mighty Ali Tod, the ‘Fastest Hands in Edinburgh’ and a veritable whirlwind of energy on our compact and bijou stage. Ali began with her newest piece ‘Hero’, written last August. In part reminiscent of TV and film themes such as ‘The Avengers’ and ‘James Bond’, this had some serious effects pedal action going on. Ali said afterwards the effect box was, unexpectedly, on the “space” setting which added an extra oomph! ‘Cuba Street’ was written about her time in Wellington, New Zealand on a street which had a dual personality: hipsters by day and tourists and drunks by night. There was a strong Cuban feel to the song and the audience clapped along enthusiastically. ‘Brasileira’ was inspired by Brazilian classical guitarist Jorge Cardoso. Ali used a rippling effect with her fingers on her right hand going up and down the fretboard – a technique I’d never seen before. Also much guitar slapping and highly imaginative use of the loop pedal for beats, second guitar, etc. I was exhausted just watching Ali play, goodness knows how she did it! ‘Effect’ was heavily influenced by Mexican classical guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. I heard hints of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac at times and the wah-wah pedal was given some action! A panoply of imagination and ideas from Ali. The loop pedal used in ‘Smoke and Fire’ allowed Ali to play in the style of both Rodrigo and Gabriela whose music style she described as “smoke and fire”. Ali split the room into two with duelling handclaps accompanying Ali which was great fun. Ali’s finale was ‘Tango’ which was soulful, joyous and full of gusto and an outrageous amount of energy. Stonking stuff and, though no one accepted Ali’s invite to dance, we clapped along enthusiastically. A phenomenal, unique set from Ali Tod. It’s worth mentioning that Ali recently started the Edinburgh Guitar Night, Scotland’s first ever guitar night, on her own with the first one taking place in March and more coming soon.

James Igoe

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