It’s eight o’clock and we are in the effortlessly cool Roxy Art House; an old cloud-grey church sat on the corner of Drummond St, just off Pleasance; inside, exposed wiring and peeling paint is lit by soft lullaby lamps and sprigs of christmas-fairy lights. The crowd is so packed into the basement-venue room that the temperature has risen a few degrees, but we have bottles of Corona beer and the fresh nighttime rain to cool us down.
An auburn-haired woman is standing on the stage with only her guitar for company; a sweet, powerful voice not unlike Annie Lennox, Nerina Pallot or a more conventional Laura Marling is floating above the crowd who are totally enraptured. Even in a room as small and as intimate as this there’s not a sound except for Lois Wilson‘s gorgeous lyrics, so quiet I’m suddenly very conscious of my mobile being turned on; it’s like the song is a ball of twine she’s unravelling at a beautifully unpredictable, addictively listenable pace. When she sings her songs - cute simple names like Adam, Love You Yet and Sweetheart perfectly match the simplistic, crystalline harmony her music produces – the audience is completley captured in collective adoration; the value of this she hasn’t quite gauged yet because you can tell she is still childishly nervous when she misses a chord or hits the wrong note. These sound waves are raw, uncut audio narcotics mainlining right into my ears – and then her set is done, and she just climbs straight off the stage, her guitar propped in a corner, takes her drink off a friend and goes back to being one of the crowd.
In the ten minutes before the next band is due on we take advantage of the new movement and find a channel through bodies to the front, so close to the stage that when the night is over I go home with a setlist. Next is Dan Lyth and his band, who come on stage and like artisans of sound, steer the audience into the path of their music, herding us from one subgenre to the next. These are not bands, these are not singer/songwriters, these are shepherds, curators of audio, and we are mere visitors sampling the aural exhibit. The audience is not held enraptured as before but this is a different kind of spell – Dan Lyth, the frontman who performs as if possessed by the acoustic-gods (Cat Stevens, with a healthy dose of The Invisible or James Yuill) he so fervently worships, sways and rocks his head whilst he sings – indeed not singing but allowing himself to be consumed by song.
And finally, the excellent Chasing Owls come on, who we are excited to see because I found them; we have ownership over them. The crowd this time is both transfixed and reverent; the lead singer holds them in the moment like a hellfire preacher predicting apocalypse in the street. The band project their songs like laser beams into the darkness beyond the stage and when the twin vocals of the keyboardist and the frontman harmonise, the beams cross and stars collide…
Rating: Lois Wilson DDDD, Dan Lyth DDDD, Chasing Owls DDDDD