Members of the music press, friends and fans packed into The Slaughtered Lamb in London on Wednesday evening to listen to Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker exclusively perform tracks from their new album ‘Overnight‘.
Accompanied by Bradley Blackwell on double bass, Kit Downes on keys and Samantha Whates on backing vocals, Josienne and Ben weaved their way through a selection of the new material, intimately performed in album order and warmly received by an appreciative audience.
Being signed to the legendary Rough Trade label doesn’t seem to have affected Josienne’s wonderfully dry and self-deprecating sense of humour. Explaining why certain songs had to be left out of the set-list she said, “We haven’t got a drummer so we can’t do the one with a pulse”. She also noted that this is their first album to include covers from people who aren’t dead!
The new material is a somewhat eclectic mix of folk, country, adapted jazz standards and even a sixteenth-century lute ballad. Whilst it’s an ambitious task to mould such a wide range of genres into a cohesive album, in performance at least it works, not least due to the consistent theme that runs throughout the collection where the listener is taken on a journey following the arc of afternoon, evening, night and morning. However, it’s Josienne’s vocal that provides the real anchor throughout; as the feel and tempo of each song changes, her voice continues to soar effortlessly above them maintaining a sound that is distinctively…well, Josienne.
My highlight of the set was the penultimate and title-track ‘Overnight’, introduced by Josienne as “the point where we see the first shards of daylight”. The song is as beautiful as the introduction…
Following a short break, the audience were treated to a set filled with, as Josienne jokes, “the usual melancholia”. Melancholy aside, their standard repertoire was wonderfully performed with the additional musicians subtly enhancing Ben’s virtuoso guitar playing; “Silverline”, from their last album ‘Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour’ received notable audience appreciation.
A cover version of Nina Simone’s ‘For All We Know’ provided the encore for an evening that served to remind anybody who needed reminding, what a class act Josienne and Ben really are. If the objective of the event was to generate interest and excitement around the release of the new album, it certainly worked for me; I can’t wait to hear it.
“Overnight” by Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker will be out on the 14th October on Rough Trade Records.
13th Aug – Winchester, Boom Town Fair – UK
27th Aug – Thame, Towersey Festival – UK
28th Aug – London, National Theatre – UK
3rd Sept – Salisbury, End Of The Road Festival – UK
7th Sept – Boston MA, Club Passim – USA
8th Sept – New York NY, Rockwood Hall – Stage 3 – USA
9th Sept – New York NY, Rockwood Hall – Stage 3 – USA
10th Sept – Philadelphia PA, Tin Angel – USA
13th Sept – Toronto ON, The Dakota – CANADA
16th Sept – Bloomington IN, Lotus World Music & Arts Festival – USA
17th Sept – Chicago IL, Hungry Brain – USA
18th Sept – Milwaukee WI, Colectivo Back Room – USA
19th Sept – Minneapolis MN, Turf Club – USA
1st Oct – Derby, Derby Folk Festival – UK
7th Oct – Bristol, Bristol Folk House – UK
8th Oct – Dartmouth, Flavel Arts Centre – UK
12th Oct – Birmingham, Red Lion Folk Club – UK
14th Oct – Cambridge, Cambridge Folk Club – UK
21st Oct – Buxton, Buxton Opera House – UK
22nd Oct – Glasgow, The Hug and Pint – UK
23rd Oct – Leeds, Oporto – UK
24th Oct – Salford, The Eagle Inn – UK
26th Oct – London, Shoreditch Town Hall, UK – [album release show]
28th Oct – Aldershot, West End Centre, UK
29th Oct – Dublin, Upstairs at Whelan’s, IRE
30th Oct – Waterford, venue TBC, IRE
4th-5th Nov – Weissenhauser Strand, Rolling Stone Weekender 2016, GER