Image by Matt Flynn
With a mesmerising voice and a powerful political message that resonates through much of her songwriting, Eve Simpson seems wise beyond her mere 17 years. Feeling a responsibility to speak about issues which affect her and those she knows on her debut EP, Shelter, Simpson’s songs talk of class, gender, politics and the mistreatment of the North East; the innocence of her sound betrays poetic lyrics that articulate much of the anger and injustice the younger generations are feeling in these uncertain and turbulent times.
Simpson states that her fascination with lyrics stems from being a “word geek” and she started writing stories and poetry from a young age; this means of creative expression eventually transformed into songwriting at the age of 13. “I think a lot can be said for using metaphorical language within poetry, as it’s a quest between reader and poet to decide what the other means; this then leaves room for interpretation and the personalisation element of literature.”
The local dialect, and the issues affecting the area in which she grew up, also makes their way into her songs. She references Margaret Thatcher and the closing down of the mines in A Woman’s Work, a song which also references feminism and fighting for gender equality. “I was once told by an English teacher that it is so important nowadays, especially for women, to have a political conscience. I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.”
the innocence of her sound betrays poetic lyrics that articulate much of the anger and injustice the younger generations are feeling in these uncertain and turbulent times
Despite the label of ‘young singer-songwriter’ seeming too broad to do her music justice, she isn’t bothered by people mentioning her age, but cites that it is more the quality of the music and how it affects the audience that should be being discussed. The label of ‘singer-songwriter’ gives her more room for expression than if she were pegged under a ‘folk’ or ‘country’ label, as her songs fluctuating between these stylistic choices and drawing influences from many other genres.
It’s here that the comparison between Simpson and American folk pioneers such as Joan Baez crosses the mind; as they both demonstrate a high, classical soprano-style voice with simple musical accompaniment and compelling, politically fuelled lyrics. Simpson has also stated Joni Mitchell as being an influence in her high voiced singing style and Billy Bragg as an inspiration in her political writing. “I would say I tend [to lean] towards the ‘folky’ side of things more so than ‘country’, I’m by no means traditional folk but I think the original 1960s/70s American ‘folk’ concept of a sole voice and a guitar or a piano is something that I definitely admire and is what I’m more drawn to.”
Her collaboration with Northumbrian folk singer Kathryn Tickell and her Superfolkus project has given the young songwriter a confidence in her performance and writing ability – something that evidently hasn’t been lost on many, as the Shelter EP was lodged at number two in the iTunes pre-order charts. At the EP’s launch on Friday 25th November at Tynemouth Surf Café, she’ll be joined by a handful of Superfolkus performers who will help bolster her sound, and if the results of Shelter are anything to go by, this young songwriter has more than a bright future ahead.