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Out of the Bedroom 710 review – Thursday 20th February 2020

Sam Shackleton

Running order: Matthew Sier, Rosie Nimmo, Dog on a Swing, Gordon Sutherland, Colin Whitelaw, Neil Matthew Fox, Jim Bryce, Roy McIntosh, Majk Stokes, feature act: Sam Shackleton.

James Igoe was host this evening, Malcolm McLean was on the sound and the venue was the back room at Woodland Creatures.

Aussie Matthew Sier returned to OOTB for the first time in six months with some top storytelling. Matthew’s song ‘The Ballad of the Young Farmer’ told of young farmers in Australia who struggle in extremely hot weather. Soft, honeyed tones and a mellow start to the evening. Poetic, easy listening and with a warm humanity at the core. Matthew’s accent has an edge that gives the songs that extra punch of sincerity.

Rosie Nimmo returned after an even longer OOTB hiatus with songs from the heart. The subjects were: remembering that inside every adult we are small children; using social media to change lives for the better; and a tender love song to her husband Tom who was on bass guitar this evening. Melding pop, jazz and folk, this was a smooth sound all round topped with Rosie’s mellifluous vocals and pleasant vocals.

Dog on a Swing played a couple of new songs – ‘If I Die Tomorrow’ and ‘Passport’ – as tasters from his next musical project. Great chord sequences and nice use of space gave these pieces drama and gravitas. Ed was playing his guitar with more confidence than ever. With a strong, original style, Dog on a Swing showed that he is one of Edinburgh’s most powerful writers of indie pop. 

Debutant Gordon Sutherland gave us a couple of well-written songs – ‘That’s Alright’ and ‘Take It Or Leave It’ – which took me back to the heady days of mid-90s Britpop. The lyrics flowed well and the melodies were memorable and underpinned with some nice guitar picking on his gorgeous, newly-strung Epiphone Coupe. Anthemic, uplifting straight-up pop songs.

Colin Whitelaw gave us two songs that he has played a few times before and never fail to pack a punch. ‘I’ve Been Thinking’: a poignant, emotional and honest piece that would bring a tear to the glassiest of glass eyes. ‘Chips For Tea (Scottish Tango): played with gusto and feeling provided the perfect contrast to his opener and was an upbeat, fun number about a desire for fast food at the end of a drunken evening. A subject that many Scots can relate to!

After the break, Neil Matthew Fox gave us three short songs with possibly the best lyrics of the evening. The evocative ‘What’s In Alaska’ featured great guitar playing. ‘A Simple Choice’ and ‘The Rich’ were about a complicated relationship breakup and a humourous, biting critique of our lords and masters. Neil produced one of the best local act CDs of 2019: a must-buy for those who like masterful lyricism.

Filming for a promo video, Jim Bryce played three songs that sparkled. Song subjects were: a friend’s journey through an evening hour by hour; British colonialism and exchanging pleasantries on a train. Jim’s emotional rollercoaster took us from mouth trumpet audience participation to solemn self reflection. An evening with Jim Bryce is anything but mundane!

Roy McIntosh presented two songs of contrast: ‘Hayley’ and ‘Old Ford Popular’. The former was about a tragic baby murder in Buckhaven. Focusing absolutely on the child, it was almost painful to hear Roy sing this, such was the power in the message. The latter song about the classic car was loud and the mood was celebratory. A grand performance from the Fifer.

Majk Stokes showcased material from his upcoming album ‘Time To Save The World’. Majk’s song ‘Superhuman’ was a humourous tale about how we look to supermen to save the day. A sample line: “wearing underpants outside my tights / saves on laundry bills”. Majk then played two songs written from his partner’s perspective: the love song ‘That’s Cute, But Slightly Annoying’ and a very short Valentine’s Day song mainly about cleaning. We thank Majk for making us all feel warm and fuzzy!

Feature act: Sam Shackleton. Unusually, Sam only puts five strings on his acoustic guitar – to emulate the banjo – and his sound is classic Americana which is timeless in theme and style. Sam’s harmonica playing is right up with the best on the local scene. He managed to fit nine top quality, original songs into his set, though some songs, such as ‘Rattling Train’ and ‘Lonesome River Song’, had “no meaning” (Sam’s own words). If they had no meaning, they were fun for us and Sam certainly enjoyed playing them. Sam let the songs speak for themselves and some were very poignant, such as his love song ‘Long Golden Chain’ and ‘Ballad of The Lost Boys’ about men who died in their early ‘20s from backbreaking work. On the subject of work, ‘Pink Collar Blues’ was about dreaming of telling his boss to f-off. Sam is one of the happiest singer-songwriters that I have ever seen at OOTB and that was infectious with the audience rattling tambourines and tapping feet in appreciation. One constructive criticism, also a general comment for the many musicians who do this, is that Sam does not wait for the audience to applaud before saying “thank you”. Milk that applause, young man! Sam finished with ‘Blue Rain’s Gonna Fall’, based on a very well-known Bob Dylan song with the location changed to central Scotland. Some great lines in here, such as “I saw fags and Buckie in the hands of small children”. An epic finale to a wonderful feature act set from a young man who has the talent and charisma to go a long way in the music business.

Review: James Igoe

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