The Jellyman's Daughter

Venue: Roxy Assembly
Town: Edinburgh
Date: 6/12/15
Website: http://www.thejellymansdaughter.com/

The Jellyman's Daughter are an exciting young acoustic duo based in Edinburgh. Emily Kelly (vocals, guitar and mandolin) and Graham Coe (vocals and cello) combine exquisite vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity, with Graham's rhythmic, percussive and improvisational cello playing giving their music a unique appeal. The debut album, "The Jellyman's Daughter", featuring their exhilirating blend of bluegrass and contemporary folk-pop, was released last year to critical acclaim and the duo have toured extensively since then to bring their music to a wide audience across the UK.

Fresh from a month-long tour of northern Europe, The Jellyman's Daughter launched their new EP in the main hall of the Roxy Assembly in Edinburgh on 6th December. The impressive arches and vaulted ceiling of this beautiful old building, together with the candlelit auditorium, fairy-light-bedecked stage and splendid Christmas tree, provided a suitably atmospheric and seasonal setting for this intimate, celebratory gig.

The evening's proceedings kicked off with a vibrant set of tunes and songs from Dowally, another impressive young Edinburgh-based band.

The interval afforded an opportunity to buy copies of The Jellyman's Daughter's new limited edition, hand-finished "December EP".

With the audience suitably warmed up, The Jellyman's Daughter were given a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the stage. The set opened with the eerie traditional murder ballad, "Darling Corey", which was performed largely a capella, showcasing the vocal harmonies of Emily Kelly and Graham Coe to good effect. Joined on occasion by guest musicians Paul Gilbody on double bass and the 'Jellyman' himself, Gerry Kelly, on banjo, Graham and Emily served up a finely balanced collection of favourites from their debut album, interspersed by some new songs and covers.

Particularly impressive from the established repertoire were the plaintive "Come Back To Me", with stunning vocal harmonies reminiscent of "Rumours"-era Fleetwood Mac; the rootsy swagger of "Anna" and "Carolina", both featuring dazzling cello riffs and solos; an innovative and classy take on The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love"; and the breezy "The One You're Leaving" (dedicated to ex-partners....).

The set also included a gently free-wheeling version of the Gillian Welch classic "The Way It Will Be", with stately and sinuous cello breaks, and the brooding and atmospheric "Honey". Both of these songs feature on the new EP. Three new songs provided ample evidence of a growing sophistication in the duo's song-writing: "Oh Boy"; the provisionally-titled "New Song"; and, especially, the epic chamber pop of the ambitious "You Don't Know Love" (also on the new EP), which featured soothing and soulful vocals from Emily Kelly, graceful harmonies, a memorably uplifting middle eight and trademark cello work from Graham Coe which was, by turns, mournfully mellow and rhythmically sawing.

A cover of "Silent Night" (the final track on the new EP) was suitably seasonal. Taken at a leisurely pace, this version provided heart-warming vocals and was notable for an outstanding 'old-timey' Western swing cello solo. As an added treat, five members of the Tinderbox Orchestra and a drummer joined Emily and Graham for the richly-deserved encore, a towering version of the hypnotic and aptly-named "Slow Burn".

Judging by this very assured and entertaining gig, The Jellyman's Daughter are growing steadily as musicians, singers, song-writers and performers. Their future looks very bright indeed.

David Ferguson

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