LIVE REVIEW: Amy May Ellis, Nat Johnson, Osaka Jo @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (30.05.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Amy May Ellis by Alice Farrington

Opening up tonight’s show was pop folk singer-songwriter Osaka Jo, who kicked off with Northumbrian folk tune Hares On The Mountain, which set the tone of the evening. On her original tracks, she flitted effortlessly between low and high registers, highlighting her pop inspiration, with a voice akin to Corrine Bailey Rae. Next up was Nat Johnson, who displayed her talent with great improv vocal sections, a cover of One By One by Connie Converse and a grunge-meets-folk song to close the set.

Amy May Ellis was performing the penultimate show of her tour which celebrated the release of her debut album Over Ling And Bell. Her gentle folk music contains themes of nature, and transported the listener to Farndale in Yorkshire, where Ellis grew up. She took the audience on a journey of emotions, through old witches tales with funky tempos and smoothly transitioning vocal riffs (Aud Mother); an ode to fidgeters, which featured audience participation (RLS = Restless Leg Syndrome); and a lament about the pain of being worn down by grief (Rain From The East). Due to its tranquil three-part harmony, set highlight Medicine felt like it had healing powers. She concluded the set by auctioning off a wooden goose to raise money for charity Play Project, which included an amusing honking competition. Commonplace for the venue, Ellis made a room full of strangers at The Cumberland Arms feel like a room full of friends.

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