Lucy Ward

Venue: Downend Folk Club
Town: Frenchay Village Hall
Date: 20/3/15

It's been said that there are only two types of people: those who love Lucy Ward's live performances, and those who haven't seen one yet.

At Downend Folk Club last week, the Derbyshire lass produced a show which saw the entire sell-out audience join the first group.

The maturity of Lucy's songwriting belies her tender age. With powerful protest songs, modern takes on traditional material, the odd bawdy sing-song and gentle, deeply personal numbers, her songs show a grasp of life which is sadly lacking in the humdrum offerings of the so-called "stars" played on Radio 1 and the like.

Lucy's voice is crystal-clear, with her obvious Midlands accent lending gravitas and meaning to her clever and often poignant lyrics.

And make no mistake: this girl can play, too. Utilising guitar, ukulele, banjo, harmonium and concertina during the course of the evening, Lucy showed a versatility and musicianship that many of her contemporaries would give their right arm (well, leg, probably!) to posses.

But, despite all the above being absolutely true, it is Lucy's ability to hold her audience that is so utterly compelling. She has the all-too-rare ability to move her crowd from roaring laughter to "you could hear a pin drop" moments in the blink of an eye. The full-house at Frenchay Village Hall were eating out of the Palm of her hand from the first note to the very last chord of the well-deserved second encore.

It was always going to be interesting to see how the youngest ever nominee for the Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year adapted to being alone on stage again after spending most of last year performing with her large band. And it's fair to say, in modern parlance, that she "absolutely smashed it."

Lucy's "Return to Roots" tour still has plenty of dates to run. If you're one of the people in the "haven't seen her yet" category, check the dates, get along to a gig, and join us in saying "I love Lucy Ward!"

Ant Miles

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