Erin Rae + HerTiltedMoons, Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, 9th November 2019

Growing up in Jackson, Tennessee, Erin Rae McKaskie was playing music from the age of five. Her parents were both musicians. Now based in Nashville, Erin Rae has dropped her surname, but the music still flows through her veins. Her sophomore album ‘Putting on Airs’ was released to widespread acclaim last year and she has gathered a growing reputation as a live performer. Tonight, she was accompanied by a three-piece band piece band who augmented and embellished her songs perfectly.

Strolling casually on stage, Erin Rae greeted her audience before immediately playing one of her strongest cards in the form of ‘Grand Scheme’ from the aforementioned ‘Putting on Airs’ collection. As the evening wore on it became increasingly apparent that she only had aces and kings in her hand. ‘Wild Blue Wings’, ‘Like the First Time’ and ‘Bad Mind’ all demonstrated Rae’s beautifully restrained voice. At a time when many mainstream singers seem to regard singing as a vocal gymnastics display, it really is refreshing to hear such a true and pure voice, perfectly fitting to her often deeply personal songs.

 In addition to her own songs, Rae performed two delightful covers from her recent four-track EP of covers recorded for Aquarium Drunkard. Firstly, an entralling reworking of Jonathan Richman’s ‘You Must Ask the Heart’ and two songs later an equally jaw-dropping version of Gene Clark’s ‘Some Misunderstanding’.

Late in the set, the band vacated the stage to leave Rae to perform solo acoustic versions of ‘Clean Slate’ and the title track from her debut album ‘Soon Enough’. These performances further underlined the essence of Erin Rae’s live performance – beautiful songs, perfectly sung. By the time the final song of the evening was performed, a faultless rendition of ‘Putting on Airs’, the audience were well and truly enraptured. When the band finally left the stage someone adjacent to me turned to their partner and simply said “wow”. Wow indeed.

The evening was kicked off by HerTiltedMoons who sang beautifully but perhaps lacked the personality, charisma and stagecraft to fully engage the audience. Nevertheless, she was afforded a warm and polite reception, having shown enough to suggest that, with a bit more polish, her time may still come.

Thanks to Nick Hodgson for photography

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