Live Review: Kim Richey + Carla J Easton, Newbald Village Hall, North Newbald, Yorkshire – 25th May 2024

photo: Graeme Tait

My windshield wipers were operating in overdrive, headlights on full, as I made the journey to the venue through weather that was more in keeping with late February rather than late May, the mist completely obscuring any sort of view as I crossed the Humber Bridge, sea and sky blended in one heavy mass of grey. However, the prospect of seeing one of Nashville’s finest singer-songwriters at one of South Yorkshire’s best small venues, the wonderful Newbald Village Hall, which regularly hosts some of the Americana music scene’s finest artists, all excellently overseen by John Tomlinson, negated any possibility of spirits being dampened as I negotiated the 90-minute drive.

Opening the night’s proceedings was Carla J Easton who, originally from South Lanarkshire has resided in Glasgow since her student days and is a former member of Teencanteen. She struck out on her own in 2016 with her debut record and last year saw the release of her fourth album ‘Sugar Honey‘. Tonight Easton, sat behind her keyboard, was supported by guitarist and backing vocals Paul Kelly and together they performed seven songs mainly collect from her last two albums. Opening with a run of three tracks all from the most recent release and starting with ‘You Make Us’, Easton is in good voice and good spirits, her between song banter very open and inclusive that quickly has the audience on side, while the following two number ‘One Week’, and ‘Blooming 4U’, conveys a writer whose songs are very first person emotive, whether they be inspired by matters of the heart or her local surroundings. Halfway into her set Easton dipped into her past with ‘How We Met, Cherry Pie’, a number from her Teencanteen days before offering two numbers from her critically acclaimed 2020 release ‘Weirdo’, including the title track and ‘Get Lost’.

Easton originally met tonight’s headline act on a Songwriter’s Workshop, becoming friends and writing together and it was therefore fitting that as this opening set came to a close, though Easton and Kelly would return to the stage later in the evening, with their co-write ‘Sleepy Head’, which again featured on her most recent album, leaving the stage to a warm and generous reception from the local congregation.

Kim Richey, luve at Newbald Village Hall, South Yorkshire, -25th May 2024
photo: Graeme Tait

After a short intermission for refreshments, tonight’s headliner Kim Richey took to the stage proceeded by her musical collaborator guitarist Luke Brighty, who had performed this role for the bulk of the ten-date tour. Long been considered by those in the know as one of the finest songwriters of her generation, Ohio-born Richey is also owner of one of the finest and most emotive voices and it is immediately clear she is in fine form. It is also the mark of her confidence that she opened the evening’s set with a song considered by many to be a true classic, the sort of track that most artists would leave until the end had they the good fortune and talent to write such a powerful number. The song of course is ‘Angel’s Share’, a co-write with the fantastic Thomm Jutz, though who wrote the chorus and who wrote the verse would appear to be a guarded secret, and from the opening few notes Richey had the audience in the palm of her hand where they would remain for the remainder of the night.

Of course when you have such a back catalogue of great songs, and a new album to promote that was officially only one day old, the difficulty is “what to leave in and what to leave out”, but Richey had constructed a set list that would encompass a mix of tracks dating back to 1995 from her debut album right up to the present including many of her most famous and popular numbers. Therefore the early part of the show saw old favourite like ‘Pin A Rose’, ‘Come Around’, ‘Good Day Here’, and ‘Straight As The Crow Flies’, straddling the first new track ‘Take The Cake’.  Re-tuning, and keeping guitars in tune are an occupational hazard for live shows, but for the next number Richey put her guitar down leaving such duties to Brighty as she sang ‘Girl In A Car’, before two new tracks ‘Chapel Avenue’, a co-write with the great Don Henry and ‘A Way Round’, were interspersed with the perennial classic ‘Every River’. By this time Kelly had returned to the stage to add his guitar skills and by the time the next new track ‘Floating On The Surface’, was performed the trio on stage had become a quartet with Easton taking her place behind the keyboards. At this point Richey delved into her songwriting roots with two songs ‘Those Words We Said’, and ‘Just My Luck’, that first appeared on her eponymous album, both tracks giving Brighty the chance to excel with a wonderful guitar solo on the first followed by some tasteful bottleneck slide on the latter.

Richey’s new album ‘Every New Beginning’, has already garnered rave reviews, and one track in particular has been attracting a lot of interest in its back story. The inspiration for the song ‘Joy Rider’, a co-write with another of Nashville’s finest, Aaron Lee Tasjan, originated during the pandemic, and the forced isolation that we all found ourselves subjected to. During this period Richey witnessed from her window the defiant spirit of a young biker who revved around the neighbourhood inspiring a sense of freedom during a period of claustrophobia. If the audience response was anything to go by this track can be added to Richey’s burgeoning list of classics.

Kim Richey, live at Newbald Village Hall, South Yorkshire - 25th May 2024
photo: Graeme Tait

Talking of classics, the final song of the evening’s performance is undoubtedly another, with ‘Chase Wild Horses’ closing the set with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm as it had opened, a momentum that had never stalled throughout the 1 hour 30 minute set. Needless to say an encore was demanded, though to be fair Richey had already informed everyone in advance, thus saving the farcical hassle of vacating the stage just to return, with the four musicians delivering a rousing version of ‘I’m Alright’, complete with enthusiastic audience participation.

Richey’s sojourns to these shores over the years have rightly earned her a strong fan base, extremely passionate and appreciative of one of Nashville’s finest exports, and her songs like close friends require being revisited and enjoyed over and over again. Rumour has it that she plans to tour these shore again early next year, so let’s start forming an orderly queue now.

About Graeme Tait 125 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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Alan Peatfield

Snap, Graeme. We drove up from Lincs to Newcastle on Weds thro’ torrential rain from literally start to finish, Jerry Leger and Kim Richey awaited us on Thurs & Friday respectively. Never any doubt about the quality of entertainment that was to follow. I’ve commented elsewhere re. Jerry. Kim was magnificent and my first visit to the Cluny 2 offered quirky surrounds but, crucially, excellent sound. Kim’s vocals were ethereal and pristine. Spine tingling. I was aware of her performing at Newbald the next night and it was only a long standing prior commitment in Suffolk that stopped me from gatecrashing that gig too. ((Although the long drive back down on Saturday sorely tempted my integrity!!). Thankfully, I’m not going to spend years regretting I didn’t catch her at least once this tour!!

Alan Peatfield

Ooooooh!!??