Often likened to Joan Baez, Emma Tricca was born in Italy, moved to Oxford and is now based in London. Frequently compared to early Dylan, Jason McNiff was born in Bradford to Irish-Polish parentage. She’s released three albums; he’s released six. They’ve known each other for several years, brought together by their mutual appreciation of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (influences are apparent), but, until now, have never recorded together. Finally, last summer, they both found themselves with free time and the opportunity to rectify that, the result being Southern Star, a six-track mini-album featuring three songs apiece.
Themes of travel are evident from the titles, opening with Tricca’s title track, the circling fingerpicked guitar reminiscent of Jackson C Frank. Another folk blues straight out of the 60s acoustic scene, McNiff takes lead on the Tricca-penned Middle Town, she returning the favour, voice echoey, for his five-and-a-half minute early hours New York, the mid-section featuring equally echoey electric guitar break. Likewise the following folksier Hills of Rome, another nimbly fingerpicked track, again echoing 60s troubadour folk names like Simon & Garfunkle, and Tom Rush and Eric Andersen.
McNiff returns to the spotlight for his third song, the musician on the road-themed folk blues Southbound Train (the reference to the River Trent locates this firmly back home) before, all too soon, things wind up with the pair duetting (with McNiff taking the lead for the final lines) on Tricca’s reflective memories of an old romance, Paris Rain.
Their simpatico connection is evident in the hugely enjoyable relaxed playing and singing, but, at under 25 minutes, it’s all too short, so here’s hoping that, once she’s completed her forthcoming solo album, they might find a slightly longer mutual window to put together for a full-length follow-up.
They play St Pancras Old Church, London on 9th November (tickets)
Tricca McNiff – Southern Star is out now via Dell’Orso
More dates to be confirmed so keep up with them via Facebook