Latest in well established series of house concert in the Warwickshire village of Princethorpe, allows room for home owner and host Michael Luntley to delight with revelation in a first for The Sheep Dip sessions which after 33 prior shows within his music room that he is able to welcome 2 part visit by an award winner to his home.
Sarah McQuaid 2017 recipient of Ards International Guitar Festival Annual Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her innovative use of the DADGAD tuning and authorship of The Irish DADGAD Tuning book. Sharing accolade of previous winners during the festivals 20 year old history in the festivals 20 year old history, previous winners include luminaires such as Davey Graham, John Renbourn, John Martyn and Gordon Giltrap, Sarah centre stage resplendent in the same red dress looks every inch a star.
Much of the evenings show is centered around the Michael Chapman produced current album "If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous", although all of Sarah's earlier work - 5 solo albums and one co-write with Zoe (hitmaker with 'Sunshine On A Rainy Day') represented in an evening of both intricate acoustic picking or at times a darkness within new found talent upon electric guitar. The latter instrument picked up on encouragement and now guitar loaned by Michael Chapman who clearly influenced some of the nights edgier rock inspired tones amid set predominately folk, although music's spikiness defies sole placement within this genre.
Software driven loops handled offstage by sound engineer and road manager Martin Stansbury help deliver experience remarkably close to gloss of album production. Sarah's live snare sampled into hypnotic percussive loop on song about observing the family cat 'One Sparrow Down', on which audience receive invite to provide cat call or any form of animal noises (well the cat did make the record). Simlarly her vocals are used in allowing chorus to evolve into cacophony of sound.
Three songs forming the core of the mid section of tonights set (and album sequencing) are the arrangement of 13th century hymn 'Dies Irae', sung in latin, its motif already heard in the immediately proceeding graceful rendition of song written by Jeff Wayne 'Forever Autumn' (Sarah's own eloquent telling of this song far outweighing charting the origins or course of hit by Justin Hayward). History repeats itself when the theme continues within the electric guitatr instrumental 'The Day Of Wrath, That Day'.
Hearing first hand the back stories to songs is always a delight, inspiration for some of those songs on offer come from a mother's love unable to resist temptation, this compassion extending to scars hidden by local beauty spot of earlier lives involved in Cornwall's tin mining industry. Tongue twisiting lyrics for obligatory singalong and the number which first hooked me and closing the second 45 minute set, the scientific reasoning of 'The Tug Of The Moon'
Fiery spark throughout her performance, momentarily blinks during encore accapella of sad lament 'The Parting Glass' its heartfelt sentiment "joy be with you all" continues to resonate..
Overnight stay for the much travelled singer & songwriter, her current roots lay in the furthest reaches of England's south west, allows for Sarah to tomorrow host her DADGAD guitar workshop.
Tony Wilding - Words & Pictures
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