Gig Review by John Kennedy / Gig Photos by Ian Dunn

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Emma Stevens’ opening set, on ukelele and acoustic guitar, with accompanying electric guitar and cello was an uplifting, blithe and breezy collection of lyrical ballads both romantic and melancholic. The hymnal cadence of ‘Anyone’ was wryly balanced by the chilled Gypsy ‘Feeling Groovy’ reminiscent swing of ‘Give A Little Bit Of What You’ve Got’. With her echoes of Celtic airs and laments Stevens’ poignant, elegiac crafted lyricism mark her as one to keep a very shrewd eye out for in the future. Check out her introspective, motel confessional style ‘Be The Singer Of My Song’. “I write and sing haunting folk/pop songs with a twist and lots of sparkle.” Doesn’t she just!

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Behold ye who forswore to venture into this cold, gentle night and weep mightily for your perfidy! Perhaps you’d given up ever believing that an artist of disarming charm, of engaging, folksy apple-pie sincerity could also sing like an angel breathing thunderbolts? ‘In Nashville,’ Jenn Bostic, comments wryly, ‘they think I’m a little bit too Pop for Country.’ Well, yes and no. Her songs are intelligent, crafted Country power-Pop ballads for sure and mightily sung too. Likewise her unashamedly delivered diva Las Vegas glitzy explosive White Soul is steeped within and draws upon the Black Spiritual congregational animus of choral harmony. She name-checks Simon Bates for giving ‘Jealous Of The Angels’ airplay, a plaintive, retrospective wish-list to her late father who died in the car crash she survived when ten years old. It could’ve seriously exploited the tear-jerking kitsch that has UK audiences squirming with ersatz contrived C&W embarrassment but not so. A classically trained musician, Ms Bostic explored some funky-cool jazz refrains on ‘Don’t Make Me Change’. Whilst blowing a homesick kiss to her husband back in Nashville, ‘Missing A Man’ made one wonder how this didn’t surface some thirty years ago on ‘Rumours’.

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Throughout the set Bostic maintained an engaging dialogue with the small but perfectly formed Bull’s Head audience introducing both brother, Jeff Bostic, on crucially cool bass, and Belinda Webb on percussion. A brief keyboard accompanied solo set featured the snappy tempoed hubris bruiser ‘If You Want To Be A Superstar’. For many a punter perhaps, the cold walk home after the gig was particularly warmed by the memories of the Rhodes piano flavoured ‘Lips On Mine’ – its dreamy romanticism encapsulating Ms Bostic’s sincerity, spirituality and damned fine voice and musicianship. Look out for the April release of ‘Not Yet’. Hyperbole aside, this was a very special gig and be not surprised to see Jenn Bostic gigging some seriously major venues later in the year.

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