On a Cheeky wee Wednesday night out to Elmwood Hall, Queens Universtiy, Belfast, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens. I didn’t have much knowledge of Emily to begin with and so was in for an unknown treat.
Emily, an Australian born singer songwriter, moved to the UK in 2002 and teamed up with Rob Jackson. They quickly formed the band The-low-country and released two albums together. In 2005, Emily worked on her first Solo album Photos.Fires.Fables that led to her teaming up with The Red Clay Halo which is made up of Anna Jenkins (Violin, viola, vocals), Gill Sandell (Accordion, piano, flute, vocals) and Jo Silverston (Cello, bass, banjo, vocals).
They then released an album together named ‘Despite The Snow’ where the track ‘Nostalgia’ was used as the theme tune for the hit TV series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. They then released a second album together, which again had another song ‘Pause’ chosen and featured in the series The Shadow Line, starring Christopher Eccleston.
From the moment the girls walked on stage and picked up their instruments, they immediately had my full attention. I wasn’t quite sure how a Cello, a Violin and an accordion accompanying a guitar was going to come together. Once they began I couldn’t get enough of them. Their ability to transform a tune and bind it all together was nothing short of perfection. Emily’s songs are a mix between folk and country with lyrics that take you someplace. The harmonies they produced were faultless and their voices complimented one another.
I spent much of the evening dodging the heads of the folk in front of me, this was so I could keep track of who was playing what and where. When Jo put her bow or finger to the strings of her cello I was in awe of her ability to change the soul of the songs. At one point there was a strong beat that seemed to appear from nowhere, until you noticed Emily’s right leg using a foot pedal of sorts whilst singing and playing the guitar.
This was one of my most favourites of recent gigs and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. For me having a love of various instruments, I embraced the music from every angle, from words, beats, bows, voices and the combination of them all.
If you get the opportunity to see Emily Baker and The Red Clay Halo, you can expect nothing but a wonderful musical massage to your ears. They are professional, beautiful and have talents between them that could only be envied, from Emily’s writing to the tunes and voices they all produce.