Nashville in the Round, Sarah Darling, Jenn Bostic and Michael Logen, Green Note London 25th May 2017 – Lesley Hastings

Anyone who knows me will be aware of how I love a songwriter’s round so I jumped at the chance to see one at my favourite London venue. A lot of people share my enthusiasm it seems as it was a sold out show, as were most of the dates on the tour, brilliant to see so much support for these three Nashville based singer/songwriters. We have reviewed Sarah Darling’s new album on this site ( link here and as a big fan of hers I was particularly interested to hear some of the tracks live. Jenn Bostic is already well known to many in the UK and has just released a new single “Wrong Thing”.

Look out for a new album from her soon. I had seen these two ladies last year in a similar songwriters set up but Michael Logen was a name new to me and I was interested to see what he added to the mix.

What I love about these evenings is that as well as hearing each artist perform and talk about their music individually, they are helped out by the others who often provide extra musical or vocal accompaniment, I guess you could say they form a temporary band for the evening! This was certainly the case at this gig, with Sarah and Michael on acoustic guitar (Michael on harmonica too)  Jenn on keys (occasionally switching to guitar) and all three harmonising beautifully. The “ gals” both have exquisite but very different voices, Sarah’s being velvety and sweet, with Jenn being more of an explosive, gospel-tinged powerhouse, and the addition of a male vocal and songs written from a male perspective complimented the “gals” perfectly, as well as adding variety there was more depth to the harmonies and the opportunity for some duets.  It was clear that all three artists love their craft and the chance to share their music and stories in an intimate setting and appreciated each others contributions. There were five “rounds”, three before and two after an interval that saw all three artists signing merch and chatting to their audience, I loved every song and performance!

Sarah got the night underway and not surprisingly most of her song choices were tracks from her recent album, which she told us was a “ labour of love” . Starting off with the exquisite ballad “ Starry Eyes” , a song she said she’d write to her younger self if she could,  she describes it on her album’s sleeve notes as being “ like a big hug” and says she never wants to lose the optimism she has always felt as a dreamer and free spirit. The other album track Sarah showcased immaculately before the short break was the nostalgic  “ Where Cowboy’s Ride” a “ very special song I’m going to love for ever, inspired by Wyoming which is pure and untouched” she told us. Her final song in the first half was more lighthearted , “ More Issues than Vogue” , warning the English man she met a few years ago, and has subsequently married , about her various shortcomings including losing keys, buying too much make up and saying thing she shouldn’t. It definitely put a smile on my face! Here she is performing it on this tour a few days ago:

Her choices for the second set were both album tracks, the spine tingling love song “ Montmartre” written with Jenn after a romantic trip there with her aforementioned Englishman, and the inspirational “Stargazer” which is about not being afraid to be who you are. Sarah will be back here touring in the Summer, of course we will let you have all the details when dates are announced!

Michael described himself as a “ thorn between two roses” before his first song but he was a thorn I loved throughout the evening with his beautiful renditions of often very tender lyrics and amusing stories. Kicking off with a Maren Morris co-write  “Wake Up When It’s Over”  which featured on the “Nashville“ TV series  (as a duet between Scarlett and Gunnar, he was joined by Sarah) this song about denying the end of a relationship was a great way to be to be introduced to Michael as both a writer and artist. Co-writing was something he mentioned a lot during the evening, telling us that Nashville is a collaborative town with a really supportive culture where songwriters circles are a  symbol of that and are a nightly event somewhere in the town. My pick of his choices during the evening was “ Goodnight/Goodbye”, a co-write with one of my favourite male artists, Will Hoge, which Michael introduced as “ one of the saddest songs I’ve ever been part of” ….then joked it would be even sadder if he didn’t get his guitar back in tune! Here he is, again at the Leicester leg of this tour, performing this heartbreaker:

He performed two numbers from his album “New Medicine” , “Mystery”  which contained for me some of the most beautiful lyrics and metaphors of the evening such as “She’s a soft reminder of the world when it was whole, and part of her is just beyond my reach”, and the rousing “Cannonball Embrace” . His fifth song was a Paul Carrack co-write, “ When I Hear Ray Charles”, a bluesy number about being homesick which he told me he doesn’t usually include in his set back home but of course Paul is a popular and well known artist over here! I’m definitely a Michael Logen fan now!

Jenn gave us a good mix of songs from her back catalogue and a few new writes that will be on her upcoming album including the first she performed, a co-write with Kyshona  (who joined Jenn and Sarah over here last years in a similar songwriters set up) a fantastic track called “ Haunting Me” about being unable to get an ex off her mind…..” Hasn’t the ghost of your love taken more than enough?” she asked, and right from the start her vocal ability was undeniable. Next she introduced “ Not Yet” from her 2012 album “ Jealous” as being an anthem to herself, and with its message about not giving up on a dream it will no doubt inspire many…. “we’re all diamonds in the rough, it doesn’t matter what you think, I’m good enough”. Here’s the official video:

The incredible “ Jealous of the Angels”, from the same album and written as a really touching tribute to her father who died in a car crash when Jenn was aged just ten got the biggest response from the audience, it was probably known to many as it got extensive radio play here when released. Her final two choices were the uplifting “ Hollywood” about being content with what you have in life, and “ For the Faint of Heart” a new song in which she admits she poured her heart out about the challenges of her career choice and questioning why she does it.

The final two songs of the night were covers of two classics, firstly the three artists  stood in the midst of the audience for a slowed down, really emotional version of “Jolene” (Michael providing guitar accompaniment) before they returned to the stage for a rousing final number, “Me and Bobby McGee”, each taking a verse on both these. What a wonderful night it was, the tour is now drawing to a close but hopefully these songwriters rounds will become a more regular feature over here, judging by the popularity of this one (and the CMA Songwriters Series that precedes the London C2C festival) there’s certainly a call for them!


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