LIVE REVIEW: Lucy Farrell With Jake Charron @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (22.03.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Tonight was a kind of homecoming. Not only did Lucy Farrell study on the near-legendary Newcastle University folk course, but she even worked in the pub for a while, so the room was full of friends as well as fans (although Farrell is so charming and self-deprecating and friendly on and off stage that the distinction quickly blurs). She was here with partner and guitarist Jake Charron, a tour promoting her new We Are Only Sound album bringing her back to the UK from her new home on Prince Edward Island.

From the off, even the new songs sounded familiar, her rich warm voice and guitar perfectly augmented by Charron’s fluid, reverby playing and some close harmonies that were almost Welch & Rawlings-lovely. Although Farrell comes from a deep folk tradition and has been in such outfits as The Furrow Collective and Dark Northumbrian, much of her solo material is a step away from more trad songs, placing her in a more singer-songwriter field alongside people like Emily Portman, Emmy The Great or even early Suzanne Vega (there was a sustained melancholy tension to one new song that really called to mind Vega’s first album).

There were excellent stories too, about lockdown Zoom cookery attempts and trying to write a song for someone’s birthday, and a gorgeous but quietly anxious song about the environment called It Won’t Be Long Till There’s No Way To Get It Back. A couple of the new songs veered into almost country territory, perhaps reflecting her new home, and a song about selkies that served as a metaphor for motherhood and ended in an audience round left me a little overwhelmed. Really special stuff. 

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