LIVE REVIEW: Annie Dressner, Gary Stewart @ The White Room, Stanley (18.04.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Dawn Storey

On a rainy night in Stanley, in a building just off the high street, something magical is afoot. The White Room is a new music café run by Graeme Richardson and tonight Annie Dressner is visiting to promote her latest album.

Perth-born Gary Stewart is a man of many musical projects who opens the show with an acoustic solo set, alternating tracks from his most recent album, Lost, Now Found with some older gems like In The Pines. The capacity crowd immediately warm to his pretty melodies, delicate vocals and humorous chatter. When he mentions that he also tours with his “Gary Stewart Presents Graceland” band, he doesn’t take much persuading to throw in a couple of Paul Simon covers, and ends with the short but sweet Song For the Asking.

I Thought It Would Be Easier, Annie Dressner’s new LP, is full of gorgeous tunes and personal lyrics about relationships, childhood memories and – on the emotional Leather Chair – things she couldn’t say out loud to her late Grandma. She lightens the mood with tales from the road and explains that she’s trying to cling on to her New York accent, having lived in Cambridge for over a decade. Her last visit to the North East was a solo spot at the Old Cinema Launderette supporting David Ford. Tonight her songs shine even more brightly as her multitasking bandmates (Ed Blunt and the aforementioned Gary Stewart) cover keys, percussion, guitar and backing vocals, often all at the same time. The most striking thing about Dressner, though, is the fact that she owns one of the most beautiful voices in music and it’s an absolute delight to have it fill the County Durham air once again.

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