Saturday, July 26, 2008

Latitude and the US influence...

"Is Latitude a typically British Festival?" was another topic that we ended up talking about while there, not that we ever came to a definite conclusion about this, and in so-doing I think we probably got it just about right!

In some ways it is, particularly in the non-music arenas, but although the music programme is certainly predominantly given to UK artists it is not overly so and to prove it this was a truly wonderful choice.

Did it matter that she actually forgot the lyrics to one of her songs? Not at all! In fact she seemed more embarrassed about the genuine applause that greeted her admission of fallibility than that for her earlier confession concerning her nervousness of playing completely solo, and at a festival too, for the first time in over a year.
Latitude was a perfect venue and in the middle of the set she took to the grand piano to showcase a new song, which became three new songs and the second of them was particularly good I think, but what really struck me was that the way she plays the piano made it sound rather harp-like. I wonder if she writes songs on piano, at least primarily, and then transposes and elaborates them on the harp? Whatever the truth about that she was awesome and without-doubt one of the top-three acts I saw at Latitude 2008, which leaves you to guess the other two.

We like to complain that the US market does not, generally speaking, readily take to UK artists. That is true but I think we have a little soul-searching to do here because we are guilty of this too and almost certainly for the same reasons. This is taken from a message I sent to my niece earlier this afternoon:

That said the current wave of US talent doesn't stop there. One of my favourite albums of the moment is not yet on general release in the UK but was released by Archer Records (ARR 3319272-2), a US independent label, in late 2007. Anchors and Anvils is the second album by Amy LaVere who writes, sings and also plays a rather unusual instrument, upright bass, which is like a double bass but even larger!
The album is a seamless mixture of new tracks and a few covers (including Bob Dylan's 'I'll Remember You') and is, on the face of it, a fusion of delta blues and Americana but for the use of Wurlizer, gypsy violin (that lends an eastern European folk influence) and various unusual guitars, plus of course upright bass, which makes it near indefinable. While I dislike none of them I find these two tracks particularly impressive:

  • Tennessee Valentine
  • Pointless Drinking

Now I also want her first album - This World Is Not My Home - too!

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