Tyler Ramsey + Alexander Carson, Bush Hall, London, 30th October 2019

Slightly bedraggled in appearance, holes and scuffs in the plaid shirt, Tyler Ramsey takes to the stage with minimal fuss. Seats himself, taking a while to tune his acoustic before intricately picking harmonics for the instrumental ‘Train‘. A suitably Halloween timed ‘1000 Black Birds‘ follows with vocals before guitarist Brian Landrum joins on pedal steel, teasing it with an e-bow to create a whirring wall on ‘Cheap Summer Dress‘. “The weight of old regret hangs heaviest on my frame” sings Ramsey. He appears in not regretful sprits tonight, this being far from his first venture as a solo artist, but his first fully dedicated new album tour since departing as guitarist from Band Of Horses in 2017.

Bassist David Macinnes plus Kevin Rumley on sticks complete the full band line up, bringing a pounding chime for ‘The Valley Wind‘ from 2011’s album of the same name. A sombre and sobering ‘Your Whole Life‘ from this year’s ‘From The Morning‘ LP comes after – its lyrics of “What you leave behind, cut all of your darkest ties” allude perhaps to elsewhere, but one couldn’t help but suppose it personal. Ramsey swaps guitar for keyboards on ‘No One Goes Out‘, flowing with an ambient charm. The band we are informed are, like Ramsey, North Carolinians and all fresh to these UK shores. Major cross-cultural contrasts are noted – crisps being chips, chips being fries – before they launch into a swinging ‘Breaking A Heart‘. It sways and shuffles as if it were the last song of the night at the local Carolina town hall dance.

A perhaps surprising cover of The Chromatics ‘Shadow‘ is thrown in, replacing guitars for the electronics of its original. ‘Dream of Home‘ showcases the band’s tight harmonies whilst ‘Evening Country’ builds and builds (volume consistently increasing throughout the gig) to a rapidly faster tempo climax. Ramsey takes the stage once again solo for a final and mournful ‘White Coat’ including the faintest touches of an audience singalong. He’s clearly gathered a loyal core support and, should ‘From The Morning‘ find itself acknowledged on many a 2019 record of the year list, this will surely only grow.

Support, and one albeit hastily arranged on the day, came from Alexander Carson. Being thrown in with little notice appeared not to deter him – “It’s fate I’m having a good hair day and I’ve been asked to open for Tyler Ramsey‘”- was his own amusing tweet du’ jour. Carson will soon be re-updating his online profile to solo artist as his hushed alt-folk Norwich collective ‘Wooden Arms’, briefly re-grouped for 2019 shows, will be nigh on indefinite hiatus after one final November Norwich show. As he currently writes for his second solo LP he spoke of being at a fork in the road. This fork from the outset appeared to divide between that of a delicate hushed piano ambience or a more upbeat (yet still lyrically cynical) piano balladeer. One wishes him well as he searches further for navigable omens.

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