March 22nd, 2009


Falling Into Spring with Hannah Scott

In the Blue Room above the back of McGinty's a striking woman with long dark hair and a strong fringe stood on the tiny low stage and fiddled with her guitar as she introduced a song that she had written. Launching into Tougher Than You, Daisy May had a mezzo voice as powerful as her image although her long legs below a short flared skirt and black petticoats were something of a distraction. She diffidently introduced Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and my heart sank at the prospect of yet another rendition of what has become A Streets of London for the noughties but the purity and strength of her voice lent this old stalwart new vigour. For a few minutes, Suman Biswas' numerous parodies were driven from my mind as I revelled in this rich sound.

Foz tore his eyes from Daisy's legs and pushed his way through the small crowd to announce the next act. The bill had promised us The Floozies but we were introduced to Daisy Windsor of the Floozies with two middle aged men on guitar and bongoes respectively. Windsor has been around for years and it shows in her assurance. She opened with the title track from her new CD Change in a Day, which she did not mention once. Her second song was Catch The Moon in which a lovely accompaniment could stand alone without the rather repetitive lyrics. Guitarist Robert Foster (introduced only as 'Robert') then switched to a flat back bouzouki to play the whistle riff that the late Keith Bleasby added to Nothing Comes For Free when he recorded it with Daisy about six years ago. Daisy misheard Robert's description of the instrument as 'flat pack' leading bongo player Brett Alexander Robertson (who was never introduced) to quip about shopping in Ikea. Daisy wondered if it had come with meatballs, shared that she had never eaten Ikea meatballs and laugned at Brett's suggestion that they are made of MDF. Standing in her soft plum muslin skirt between the two men with her head thrown back and her lightly hennaed wavy hair quivering to her laughter, Windsor was the very picture of a folk singer/songwriter.

Between earlier songs there had been breaks for guitars to be tuned up or down. Before launching into Sunrise Brett surprised his colleagues by calling a halt to retune his knuckles. It was good to see him back in action after several years and I later heard that he had switched to professional photography after recovering from a heart attack. Sunrise is a moving melody over which the lyric "it's all so beautiful today" repeats without growing tiresome.

For her last number Daisy Windsor told how she had been reminded of her schooldays in the bottle green uniform of Diss High School and the bus ride home to Scole. She hated school. "The 'Coolest Girl In School' wasn't me', she grinned ruefully launching into the song of that name. "Drum solo..." joked Brett as the set ended and Foz took the stage.

As Foz thanked the band and set up the headline act, Daisy Windsor leaned back in to say "Wytchazle, that's the band's name." Presumably this was their first gig. The landlord had already suggested that Hannah should rename as "Hannah and the Daisies".

The crowd had swollen from under 40 to over 50 by the time that Hannah took the stage with her new accompanist John Carden. They were launching a new EP Falling Into Spring at this event prior to an iTunes release on Monday. Hannah looked hot in her black leather jacket. She looked warm too and soon shucked the jacket to play in shirtsleeves and jeans. As the two musicians set up the keyboard, Hannah's red guitar, and John's plainer instrument, a green light gel was swapped out for a blue one. Beside Hannah's small frame John looked tall with a narrow leather tie and dark jeans emphasising his length. His heavy-framed glasses and short thick dark hair combined with a boyish air of carelessness. It is a pleasing contrast with Hannah's tight glossy polish.

For Trail of Stars both guitars were too dominant in the mix but the sound was sorted for Climbing on Castles in which Hannah describes the dizziness of love. For the third song they chose Skimming Stones, which I commissioned for FlowFest during the Ebb & Flow project last summer. John's harmonica part on this caught the optimism of the lyrics. Hannah moved to the keyboard for Hate This Place, which John described as 'happy hate' about leaving a job. John retuned for Long Way Home (track five on the EP), which was inspired by Hannah's tears after reading The Time Traveller's Wife. He tuned up again after this song as Hannah returned to the guitar and described how they had been introduced by mutual friends from Durham university in a London pub in 2008. Near the end of the year they built a set list and decided to make an EP to reproduce what they do on stage (by contrast to Hannah's first album, which was a studio sound with a full band). They set the dates before writing the songs.

Feels Like Coming Home had a bigger sound than previous numbers and was filled with little smiles as it built to a big finish. Fireflies was a bright change of pace as it recalled the magic of seeing these luminescent insects on a Tuscan evening. John had added a bucolic accordian part using a shiny red instrument that he had received from his parents as an eighteenth birthday gift but had not used in the intervening five years. During this song someone behind me received a phone call and held a conversation at the back of this tiny venue with no apparent consideration for the effect of this on the rest of the audience.

Hannah moved back to the keyboard to mourn the end of a relationship in Into Your Grief. This was followed by the EP title track Falling Into Spring and a final tuning up for the encore of the upbeat love song Cottage in the Country written about eight years ago and released on Hannah's album. "We planned one more," advised Hannah, "because I once had no more. What are you laughing at? Me? I'll stop talking now."