Marie Naffah – California

I’m thinking about heading home. It’s not that I particularly want to leave this oasis in the South East of Spain to head back to the South East of England but I know I’ll have to one day soon. When I left from Stansted in July I had no idea that I’d still be here now. I’m stretching my Summer wardrobe out to the extremes pretending it’s still warm enough to wear T-shirts and shorts. And it is, just about, even though the nights are on the turn. 

I’ll miss it when I go. I was out here two years ago at exactly this time of year and though I built up a wild bank of memories, I was ready to return to London and a day job when the time came. But now, because of this odd year that we’re all experiencing, London pulls me less – and I can do the day job from here. I like my own company and I’m no longer a novice at dealing with the solitude. 

I’m drawn to the new single, California, from Marie Naffah. It’s competent stuff, soulfully delivered. There are happy memories within as Marie recalls a recent road trip and the smiles it still evokes. The song, a gentle jazzy-pop meander, is a vehicle for Marie’s fine voice as we drive along the coast in search of hidden coves and new dreams.

Marie sums it up better than I can when she says that, “Quite simply, ‘California’ is a love letter to a place. It’s meant to capture the infatuation of being somewhere that is not your home. Where the mundane becomes marvellous and every detail is a souvenir.I wrote it after coming back to London – the verses are just lines lifted from my diary pages. It all happened – the smell of the dock, the drives to nowhere, the early sun rises, the coffee from big cups ’.

I have no doubt that I’ll write similar love letters to Alicante when the time comes to leave. But, for now, I’ll try to live in the moment more, to soak up the sun as it touches the terrace and realise just how lucky I am to be living here right now. 

Jade Jackson & Laky – The Old Blue Last – October 1st 2019

Will this guy ever shut up? A super-stalker of a fan has placed himself at the front of Old Blue Last’s stage and is using every opportunity, every break between songs, to tell Jade Jackson, the emerging Californian Americana star, that he loves her. He probably doesn’t realise quite how disruptive his over-the-top obsession is and mostly Jade is able to steer the attention away from him and back towards her. “Oh, you can play every song of mine on guitar can you?“, Jade observes. “Good to know should I get tired.

I go to a lot of gigs at the Old Blue Last and it’s fair to say that I’ve never seen the average gig-goer so advanced in age. Perhaps that’s a direct consequence of the music on offer; the timeless bar-room spit of cool Country is never going to seem relevant to the grime-fuelled  popsters who  typically frequent this place. And they’re missing out. 

Laky, support for the evening, is probably the youngest in here. She takes to the stage armed just with an acoustic guitar. The beanie she wears gives her folk credibility; her confident chat and well-composed songs the air of a protest singer who’s not quite settled upon a cause. The heckler at the front auditions for the main event by also directing far too much between-song adulation towards Laky. She’s clearly not quite sure how to deal with such unrequited love and so offers up a bit of Country. “Whoops, Americana I mean”, she says, correcting herself quickly.

When Jade Jackson last visited London, she gigged at The Slaughtered Lamb. Jade’s proud that she’s now playing a larger venue and few would bet against that ascendancy continuing when she returns again – for tonight Jade’s composed, languid songwriting really does entice those watching. When it’s good, this is a very special talent indeed. 

Jade reveals that she almost chose never to play set highlight, Tonight, live. Initially cautious of baring too much, this autobiographical maelstrom is a hard-hitting exercise in cathartic release. “Tonight I’m confused but that don’t take away my right to refuse”, Jade sings, whilst retelling an all-too-familiar tale of predatory behaviour. 

Jade’s band of Devin, Tyler and Julian, seriously talented sessioners, back her to the hilt. They can all play but Julian on guitar particularly stands out. Here’s a man who can make his instrument sing and is given plenty of opportunity to do so with solos a feature of most tunes. 

“Give this man a microphone”, says Jade before launching into a cover of Elvis’ ‘Burning Love’. Most of the crowd are in no doubt though – they want more of the act on stage and no encore from the talkative twat. 

 

The Corner Laughers – Midsommar

Is it pouring with rain where you are? I’ve yet to draw back my curtains but I’m sensing grey. I can hear cars swooshing through puddles as early risers weave their way to work. It’s a thoroughly depressing sound and even the birds that are singing seem muted today. 

Thank goodness therefore for happy, sunny songs such as this one from Californian twee pop band, The Corner Laughers. Midsommar is a bright breeze of a piece and is released in advance of The Corner Laughers fourth album. If you like your music joyful then I’d recommend checking out more of the offerings from Karla Kane and gang. I have been over these last few depressingly, drizzly days. The album from a couple of years ago, Poppy Seeds, would seem like a pretty fine place to start. 

Vaguely aware of midsummer through the summer solstice, I had little idea that the ‘Midsommar’ celebrations in Sweden are such festive affairs. A national Bank Holiday is called on the weekend closest to June 24th. Swedes flock to the countryside where they set up camp for the night, wear crowns made of flowers, build a midsommarstang (like a community maypole), dance, sing, eat and drink potent drops of the alcoholic drink, Akvavit, around a Bonfire as night sets in. It does all sound like a rather glorious time.

And it’s those glorious moments of time that I think The Corner Laughers are trying to capture in Midsommar. From the initial strums of ukulele through to a pompous but not out of place guitar solo, this is a tune about celebrating good times. The impossibly happy chorus encourages us to frame those memories for they might be few and far between. 

I defy you not to have a glorious time.