Another night at The Green Note, another affirmation that Laurel Canyon Music are a force to be reckoned with in music promotion and another sold out audience to listen to two talented musicians who both have something to say that we should be listening to.
Tracey Browne is a Cambridge raised, Manchester based, musician who was making her first appearance at The Green Note and the audience easily took to her relaxed, friendly style and charmingly personal songs. Although she says she tries to write a variety of songs there is a theme that runs through them, of the person who wants to be themselves but with an undertow of uncertainty about exactly what they are capable of. Her first full album in 2012 was titled "Everyone is Ordinary" and we got plenty of song that people can relate to.
"Paradise Found", from that album, opened the set and is an up-tempo, almost pop, song that should be about love but becomes a song about the decisions and balancing act that comes with a relationship.
Also from that album "Under the Radar" was a delightfully bouncy tune that could have been written about the Blind Date From Hell. How do you avoid somebody you took an instant dislike to as it saved a lot of time?
Tracey works extensively with other musicians as well, including Thea Gilmore, and on the night was joined by co-writer Raevenna Husbandes (Moulettes) for a couple of songs that had a very positive feel about them.
The long, and deserved, applause at the end of the set suggests this will not be Tracey's last appearance at the venue and hopefully she will come back with her new album "Doctrine of Song" currently being crowd-funded through Kickstarter with a closing date of 2nd May. It's well on its way to the target and. based on the songs from it played on the night, it deserves to succeed.
After the interval it was time for Emma Ballantine to take to the stage. Like Tracey, Emma is skilled on both guitar and piano but was was also joined on the night by John Parker (Double Bass) and Anthony Bealing (Drums).The core of Emma's set was her new EP "Somebody's Story" which is based on real life events people have told her about and she has set to music. The four chosen for the EP cover a whole range of human experience from heartwarming to heartbreaking. They all show bravery in different ways; from doing the right thing despite a very real danger, to risking everything for love, dealing with disability and coping with loss.
What made these songs even more powerful was that Emma read out the stories, as told to her, before each song so we got the whole background in the person's own words before listening. Some of the people were in the audience that night and having them there gave a real sense of contact, a tangible history. It is something I hope Emma will do in future when she tells these tales, because they deserve to be told.
Mention must also go to Nick, on sound for the night. One of the songs, "Through Your Eyes", is based on a story sent in by the mother of an autistic child who has learnt from her son that there are fresh ways to see the world. He's also a musician and Nick worked some of his music into the song, patching through the computer and getting the timing spot-on.
Each of the four songs has a different sound to it, as well, from the folk feel of Harmonise to the electro-pop of Secret Tunnel. Emma gives a lot of the credit for this to producer Luke Mosely who has done what a good producer should and move the performer out of their comfort zone, encouraging them to take risks and innovate. "Somebody's Story" is now released, available from the usual sources and has been making waves, including topping singer-songwriter charts.
What links them all is Emma's evocative singing, towards the soprano range and beautiful controlled. She gave life to these and the other songs as well as and, like Tracey, kept the audience involved throughout the night. We were the audience but also part of the performance.
All credit to Tracey and Emma for giving us a great night of music, and to Laurel Canyon for making it happen.
Words & Pictures Tony Birch
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