Live review: Beth Rowley, Eliza Wren Payne, Dear Eskiimo, J’Nay and Honeyz

Hit Sheet @ Cobden Club, 24 November 2005

In the warm and theatrical surroundings of the Cobden Club we were being treated to a set of what promised to be high quality acts from the monthly Hit Sheet night.

We were gently eased into the evening by the warm tones of Beth Rowley, a singer with passion and a great jazz voice. Beth normally plays with a larger band I understand, but the intimacy of the venue suited the piano accompanyment wonderfully. I was especially amazed at her closing number that brought out a completely different side to the George Formby classic “Leaning On A Lamppost”.

The intimate feel was continued with the next act, a singer and songwriter from Utah called Eliza Wren Payne. Eliza sang with a delicacy and strength that was truly touching. Her style was evoked memories of early Ani Di Franco in her pure tones that carried a very exposed and personal feel with her precisely clipped vocals that draw the ear expertly to the important phrases. Unfortunately, the busy line up only allowed her a couple of numbers. However, those songs she played showed such a great individual talent I can’t believe it will be long before her name will be well known indeed.

Next up, giving us a soul flavour with his excellent voice was J’Nay, performing with Blue on acoustic guitar. J’Nay’s impressive voice ranged all over as he ran through his well executed but brief set.

Dear Eskiimo – One to watch.

The highlight of the whole night for me, and many others, was Dear Eskiimo. Their fusion of pop hooks, samples, catchy lyrics and vocal style was a blast of energy into a rather sedate venue. The coquettish Katie White stomps and whirls, Jules stands solid at the mic guitar in hand while the shy and retiring Simon throws in beats and samples. They are a slightly unusual collection of musicians but have damned convention and pulled influences from all over, honing them into a startling array of songs with instant appeal, humour and joyfulness. Look out for them as they are releasing new material next year, including an album.

The Honeyz – of ‘Finally Found’ fame – were given the unenviable task of following Dear Eskiimo, which they did with little gusto or panache. Their style appears not to have changed in any way in the last few years which left them sounding immediately dated and stale.

Sadly, I had to miss Declan O’Rourke play. Shame, I heard it was a great set.

Line Up:

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