Noah Gundersen and Harrison Whitford – Union Chapel – January 16th 2020

Noah Gunderson is right. It probably does suck to start any UK tour at Islington’s Union Chapel. The wonderful serenity of the surrounds; the stained-glass looking down on us in this stunning place of worship. Other venues just can’t compete with the peace and beauty. “It’s all going to be downhill from here”, observes Noah wisely. 

Tonight, the Union Chapel is Noah’s ark. His brand of singer-songwriter folk goes down a treat with the hushed audience who cling to his every word. Noah loves the British audiences; they’re attentive listeners and polite with their praise. We are in a chapel and sitting in pews after all. 

He’s joined for most of his set in the chapel by support act, Harrison Whitford. Clearly friends off-stage, there’s a magic that works between them. Harrison harmonises and play crisp slide guitar licks whilst Noah holds fort taking cheap (and obvious) shots about the state of British food. Rich from an American. 

We’ve already been treated to Harrison’s support set. He’s great; a storyteller with a manner of delivery that mixes Sufjan Stevens with Randy Newman; he plays a cover from the latter. It’s definitely going to rain today. 

Talking of covers, Noah’s not averse to one or two himself. ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ sounds sad and mournful rather than pop. The Tom Waits cover, ‘Day After Tomorrow’ a smart addition and a set highlight. His own songs, earnest and literate, sometimes suffer from a popular blandness. I yearn for a bit more weirdness in my music but there’s no denying that when Noah really opens his mouth, a powerful voice comes to the fore. 

In between the acts, a chap (whose name I miss) comes and gives an impassioned speech about the sadness of suicide, especially in young men. Apparently, it’s a cause close to Noah’s heart and he’s actively working with this charity to get men to talk, to be more open about their emotions. Got to appreciate that touch. 

We parade out into rain-drenched Islington streets. I’ve enjoyed my first visit to the Union Chapel. The adoring fans are oblivious to a bit of drizzle. 

 

Lucy DK – Drama

Everyone who watched Lucy DK’s performances years ago at the OBS Unplugged showcases knew that they’d seen something pretty special. So taken with her talents was I that I featured her here and then reprised that with a second place in my Sonic Breakfast top ten of the year (here).

At University in America it appears that Lucy has continued to develop. Alerted to a new video via social media, I felt compelled to take a look. 

Gently unique, laidback but suitably strident, Drama is the sound of a strong, young woman finding her voice – although in Lucy’s case one suspects that the voice has always been there. 

Drama finds Lucy coming to an end of what sounds like a toxic relationship, one in which she’s taken the blame from her boyfriend for all sorts of misdemeanours. In truth though, the faults that he’s been so keen to highlight are little more than his own insecurities coming to the fore. 

Glossed with a charming pop intent,  a calypso dust and a light jazz spray bubble away under the surface in this altogether addictive piece that lures you sweetly in. The chorus, a restrained and elegant hiccup of a thing, is the catch that draws you further in and, in my case at least, necessitates repeat listens. 

Lucy DK – her stage is so clearly set. 

 

Todd and Jingyu – Find Me Find You – A Story

As this week builds towards the corporate schmalz of Valentines Day, Sonic Breakfast has unearthed a delightful record about love for your listening pleasure. 

Find Me Find You: A Story by Todd and Jingyu is quite an album. We’re suckers for stories here at Sonic Breakfast and this one beautifully documents the relationship of our leading characters. The first half of the record takes us from the pain of previous friendships that weren’t quite right through to the initial connection and meeting between Todd and Jingyu. The second half shows how, despite some cultural differences (Todd is American and Jingyu Chinese), the love that develops continues to grow. 

One suspects that this is still a couple who hold hands when they walk in the park. You get the sense that Todd and Jingyu wake every morning with that secure knowledge of being able to share the wonders and curiosities of the world together. 

Musically, the story of Find Me:Find You also touches on many of Sonic Breakfast’s pinch points. There are counterpoints a-plenty within the sweet, observational duets that make up much of the record. You can easily imagine that you’re listening to the soundtrack from a stage musical here; a simpler Sondheim shall we say?

Do listen to the record from start to finish if this has piqued your interest – it’s freely available on line and well worthy of digging into. For now, Sonic Breakfast wants to share two songs with you . 

‘Find You’ is set before Todd and Jingyu meet. Both are establishing their online dating profiles, boiling their wants and desires down into a simplified cliched language that might appeal to their dream partner. And wrestling with themselves over the apparent stupidity of it all.

‘Boy And Girl’ is the album’s central stone. It’s the thoughts of Todd and Jingyu when they first meet; the initial rush of excitement when they realise there’s a connection; the nervous energy that’s expended when you babble on about the first thing that comes to mind in those moments when any silence might be considered awkward rather than perfectly natural.

These are happy romantic tunes, awash with the sweetest of uncorrupted innocence. It almost feels like Spring is in the air.