First time for this reviewer at The Islington in Tolpuddle Street, a traditional room behind a pub with space for around 120, the stage taking up around a third of the floor space. A fine compact and intimate space to see Heather McEntire promoting her album ‘Lionheart’ which has been well received across the board. Taking time out from Mount Moriah, McEntire, accompanied by fellow MM member Jenks Miller on guitar, played rhythm to great, mean and menacing effect.
‘Lionheart’ is full of songs that speak from the soul and sound very much as if they came out of Americana’s heartland – as she does. Heather sings of her relationships with an emotional and powerful voice and it was a mightily impressive headlining debut. She seemed genuinely surprised that the room was sold out and wondered how on earth people had heard of her. After performing the entire album, she was somewhat flummoxed that her fans did not want her to leave the stage and kept calling for more. She then announced she would do a Mount Moriah track and was amazed that people called out for their favourite numbers and she thanked the internet for its evidently global reach.
McEntire is a singer songwriter of huge potential, currently an under the radar treat but, given a bit of luck and the right break, she already has all the skills to be huge and to bring a very different take on American/Country than Margot Price or Maren Morris. Check her out on the internet and try to see her the next time she makes it over here.
The evening started off with Emma Kupa accompanied on drums by Mark Boxall. Emma’s strident voice and guitar playing made it clear she is very passionate about her songs which reminded me a little of the gritty reality of Chris Difford with their echoes of every day London life and the trials and tribulations of being in a relationship. Emma is just starting out and it would be unfair to expect the levels of professional polish that years of experience bring to performing but she has her own voice and her lyrics make for involved listening.
Photography by Freddie Ahad