As a child of rural Somerset, I am no stranger to folk music. My teenage years were spent swigging cider and singing around campfires and I was raised on a rich, if not quite balanced, diet of Bob Dylan, Lau and Eliza Carthy. So it was with a spring in my step and hope in my heart that I ventured to
A harp, two guitars and three total strangers is an impossible task for any jam but, Great Folk, they certainly gave it their all.
My Fringe companion and I took our seats in the Main Stage, which sweltered with the heat of candles, stage lights and Brighton’s great unwashed. But as the spotlights came up it was clear that something peculiar was going on.
Here were three accomplished musicians, clearly uncomfortable, plonked onstage in an atmosphere of forced camaraderie. A sort of impromptu jam with a set list, one by one the musicians performed their own songs while the others provided tentative accompaniment.
Brighton-based Ellie Ford was the least assured, but most promising, of those sharing the limelight. ‘Low’ is a haunting harp track with all the rich melancholy of Joanna Newsom, though less of her playfulness. Ford’s sweet, soaring voice has real emotion and fans of Laura Marling et al should pay close attention to her quietly poetic lyrics.
Jack Harris does not quite deliver upon the flyer’s outrageous claim of ‘elegantly crafted songs reminiscent of Leonard Cohen’, but then, who possibly could? A confident and accomplished guitarist, Harris has a great voice and delivers a mean anecdote. ‘Potato Flower’ is a delightful ballad which shows off his rich, smooth voice with all the proper smokiness.
A mysterious Scot replaced ‘Small Town Jones’, who was waylaid by car trouble and forced to cancel. His mature songwriting, delicate guitar and husky voice were a welcome addition to the troupe’s talents, but all in all the varied artists never quite managed to find their groove. Distracted by bewildering lighting and blasted with sound issues, the audience was polite but restless and the soporific heat soon had us nodding off. A harp, two guitars and three total strangers is an impossible task for any jam but, Great Folk, they certainly gave it their all.