I gid tae see Sierra Hull supported by Awkward Family Portraits at I’ New Auditorium in Glesca Royal Concert Hall as pairt o yon winter festival ca’d Celtic Connections.
Awkward Farmily Portraits are a five-piece outfit based in Glesca wi’ Julen Santamaria , Timmy Allan, Andrew Herrington, Chris Dickie an’ Roo Geddes. They’ve aa hid a wealth o experience, an hae released music on Holy Smokes Records. I cidna really pit them intae a genre box, bit this added tae the enjoyment o their set. Their set wis full o’ upbeat an catchy sangs, wi’ upliftin electric guitar solos, strang lead vocals an’ supportin harmony vocals fae a the loons. It’s nice tae see aa the musicians in the band deein harmonies. Tremendous nterplay atween fiddle an electric guitar wis energised an engaging. The lead singer maintained a consistent an unwavering mid-atlantic dialect throughout singin’ only tae rip intae his ain Scots dialect fan spikkin tae the audience. Sangs like ‘Can’t Control Cupid’ an “Day in the Life of a Lying Man’ were my personal favourites alang wi’ an environmental protest sang caa’d Kick the Bucket. These lads write sam braw sangs an hae repertoire thits engagin’ an accessible. ‘Come on Down’ hid sic a full powerful 4-pairt harmony. Finishin up wi’ the humorous ‘Don’t Drink Whisky, It’s Risky’. Five first class musicians creatin a soond thits tight an assured. Their stage presence wis infectious an affa entertainin. I jist feel like there wisna enough introductions tae the sangs – micht be jist due tae time constraints, only haen aboot 40 minutes set.
Niest on, wis Sierra Hull fa pit on quite a show fir abdy. She hid a puckle fowk wi her, includin saxophonist, Eddie Barbash. An unlikely instrument ye think? Naw, Eddie played bluegrass and aul-time tunes on I saxophone sae weel that ye’d think thit the saxophone wis CREATED fir it! An unlikely yet brilliant ensemble! Alang wi’ Eddie, she wis jined by Jeff Saunders on I’ bass, Mike Seals on electric guitar. Sierra gied us aa’ a taster o sangs fae her new album, 25 Trips, oot on Rounder Records on 28th February.
Her vocals are jist sublime, bit her ability tae play mandolin is jist oot o this warld. A literal prodigy, Sierra is ane o the brawest players ye’ll find. Barbash’s sax solo in ‘Middle of the Woods’ wis sammin tae behold. ‘Lullaby’ wis a sang scrieved whilst Hull wis oot on I road tourin missin her mither. As a singer masel, I certainly felt ivry ward she wis singin. Sierra’s music is accessible an universal, an quite frankly, bonnie in ivry wey. “I’m too old for a lullaby, but I’ll never be too old to cry”. ‘The In-Between’ hid a few fills thit showed aff abdy’s talent. “Twenty two years with so much to learn” – a hear ye weel Sierra, a hear ye! Its affa clear thit the fowk onstage shared an expressed a deep enjoyment an lo’e fir playin this music an playin thigither wi ane anither. Sierra an Eddie then played a puckle instrumental tunes, which showcased jist foo prodigious they baith really are. She noted that she disna get tae hear muckle Scots or Irish tunes unless she sower here, an introduced the neist set wi’ “I don’t know where these come from but they’re fun!”.
An jist fan ye think she canna get onymair talented, she pinches a shottie o’ Mike’s guitar an treats us aa tae an intimate version o her sang ‘Everybody’s Talking’ fae her new album. Sic a pure, raw vice. Her storytellin’ gave insight tae the creation o these sangs an held I audiences attention. A braw mix o sangs and tunes. Sierra did twa encores. Ane bein :Father Time: a beautiful sang written aifter spendin a wik wi her husband an his elderly grandmother fa his Alzheimer’s. Sierra an band finished aff the show wi an entirely acoustic number, unplugged an intimate, jist gorgeous.
Sierra Hull’s album 25 Trips was released on 28th February. www.sierrahull.com