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Siobhan Wilson

Venue: Voodoo Rooms
Town: Edinburgh
Date: 24/09/17

Having received a number of rave reviews for her new album, "There Are No Saints", and wowing the audience at the recent Green Man Festival, eclectic Scottish singer-songwriter Siobhan Wilson is currently on the crest of a wave. This buoyant mood was very much in evidence as a clearly delighted and excited Siobhan took to the stage in Edinburgh's Voodoo Rooms on 24th September, as part of a headline album launch tour. This was largely a solo gig for Siobhan Wilson, although occasional accompaniment was provided by her talented pals, Matthew Paul Stacey Rawlings (guitar and percussion), Ryan Joseph Burns (guitar, piano and percussion) and Su-a Lee (cello).

The set naturally majored on the songs from the new album and Siobhan strapped on her trusty Gretsch electric guitar to open the show with the expansive "Dear God", a heartfelt message to The Almighty, which demonstrated the full extent of her impressive vocal range and her interesting phrasing technique....not always one for conventional song structures, this girl. Chiming guitar and a slightly breathless vocal ushered in the absorbing lo-fi pop-rock of "Dark Matter" ("Nobody knows what dark matter is made of or what goes on behind your eyes..."). Siobhan turned to her 2012 mini-album "Glorified Demons" for "Laugh And Die", a reflective rite of passage song, in which the underlying melancholy gives way to the promise of new beginnings ("So I've sold everything I own, I have nothing left to lose, I'm going to a place where nobody knows my face...and the Jekyll can let the Hyde outside to play".).

Siobhan switched to piano for the next three songs, with added texture and colour provided by Su-a Lee's graceful cello. The dreamy French love song "J'attendrai" featured a soothing vocal from Siobhan, underpinned by an elegant piano motif. "Paris Est Blanche", an exquisite tale of lost love (written by a former boyfriend of Siobhan's, Simon Campocasso) tugged at the heart-strings, featuring feathery vocals over another delicate piano signature. Sandwiched between these two enchanting French chansons was "Disaster And Grace", this reviewer's favourite song from the new album. This epic, slow-burning song was an absolute tour de force, drawing a stunning vocal performance from Siobhan Wilson. The intricate and imaginative structure of "Disaster And Grace", with its delicate light and shade and subtle shifts in tempo and mood, brought to mind the work of celebrated songwriters Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile) and Rufus Wainwright.

The somewhat ominous tone of "Incarnation" was heightened by some deliciously deep and resonant chords and licks on Siobhan's Gretsch, as her vocals soared on the towering chorus..."I don't wanna be a blackbird sitting alone on top of your gravestone, I don't wanna be an incarnation, telling your life like it should have been told...". Fuzzy guitar chords introduced the indie-pop gem, "Whatever Helps", which boasted a killer sing-along chorus and a nod in the direction of late 70s New Wave (think Blondie, but way more cool...). Siobhan switched to Spanish acoustic guitar for one of her signature songs, the swaggering and playful "All Dressed Up", allowing Matthew Rawlings to show off his guitar chops with some tasty, country-tinged chords and licks. Siobhan gleefully informed us that she had recently changed some of the lyrics to this acerbic, yet humorous, swipe at a former boyfriend, in order to make them more evil!

Siobhan Wilson ended the main set with an achingly beautiful vocal on the gentle ebb and flow of the bittersweet "It Must Have Been The Moon". Siobhan confessed her relief at the audience's loud demands for an encore (as if there had ever been any doubt...), as it gave her the opportunity to play her own favourite song from the new album, the unashamedly romantic and heart-warming "Make You Mine". This was a fine example of Siobhan's gift as a story-teller in song and was also notable for a beautifully-constructed and fluid electric guitar solo from the young lady herself. You could have heard a pin drop during the closing song, a gorgeous cover of the Richard Thompson classic "Beeswing", featuring a quietly mesmerising vocal from Siobhan and the gentlest of piano accompaniment from Ryan Burns.

This was a brilliant performance from Siobhan Wilson, full of invention, originality, poise and charm and underlining both her considerable talents as a singer, songwriter and musician and her massive potential to become a leading figure in the UK music scene. From a purely selfish point of view, I hope that Siobhan's recent move from Glasgow to Edinburgh to further her musical studies (she is already an alumnus of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) leads to more regular opportunities to see her play live....

David Ferguson, words and Michael Ozmond pic

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