Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Live Review

Scary Canary, Stourbridge

It was a slightly chaotic start to the launch of Kim Lowings and the Greenwood's new album, Historia in Stourbridge town centre in the Black Country.

Kim Lowings and the Greenwood at Scary Canary
The launch of the collective's second disc was in the upper room that is Scary Canary which started life as a clothes shop a little further down the street.
To say the least, the venue is a work in progress resembling something that's a cross between a  building site and a second hand furniture shop.
However, with a scattering of sofas, tables and a wide variety of chairs and every kind of lamp hanging from the unfinished ceiling the upstairs room was soon packed with family, friends and fans of the band which gave it a good atmosphere.
To add to this Lowings was suffering with the aftermath of a throat infection and there were problems getting the sound right but in spite of all this the band soldiered on and gave a good performance with tracks from the album as well their more well known stuff.
They kicked things off with the Wood Wife which is on the album and is a traditional ballad which tells the cautionary tale of woman who is essentially a witch and comes to a sticky end. It was a muted start to the concert with Lowings voice quite reserved.
This was followed by another album track. Lowings switched to the dulcimer for Maggie's Song which is inspired by a family story of a boat trip and drunkeness off the coast of Croatia. It is introduced on the album by her grandfather and it's what folk songs are made of, a story about folk doing what folk do.
There was quite a long pause through which Lowings had to vamp while another technical problem was sorted out but once started again she came in with a gentle song Lullaby, although her voice was overpowered a little by her dulcimer. The band, which has a core of Lowings, Andrew Lowings, Dave Sutherland and Tim Rogers, was joined by Leon Gormley and Lewis Jones who played an incredible instrument the Swedish nyckelharpa (see the video below) which has to be seen to be believed.
The band pushed on through the problems to move on to sing Monsoon where Lowing's voice is strongly accented by the brooding sound of her dulcimer.
The new album
This was followed by a similar ballad New Moon. Again the concert was beset by technical problems so Lowings improvised and sang Regrets a Capella. It is testament to the strength of her voice that even though not firing on all cylinders she was still damn good.
The song was inspired by an elderly man she met while working for Asda and the story behind it is quite simple but very moving. Also on the album is the instrumental Alfrick which has a renaissance feel to it and gave Rogers a chance to shine and bring out a stronger percussion feel to it as it built up to a crescendo. The band also pulled out a bluesy version of the popular song The Cuckoo.
With the set drawing to an end Lowings sang about her goodbye to Asda with I'm Still Here and one of the band's most evocative songs Willow.
Lowings and the rest of the band have invested a lot of time and effort in this self-produced second album and the simple fact of the matter is it was worth all the hard work.

The Mike Harding Folk Show