"Sunny Lady" by Evergreen
I think that I can safely say that I have not before reviewed a more eagerly anticipated debut single than "Sunny Lady" by Evergreen.
I've sang their praises as a live phenomenon several times already in "Hot Music Live" and have long awaited their recorded debut: and I'm hardly alone given the unprecedented levels of interest by local promoters & radio stations who have featured live performances & can now play this record. The list of their fans has been growing swiftly since their foundation less than a year ago.
The band, as my earlier reviews have stated, but I'll repeat for newcomers, comprises Rikki Hansel on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Tyron Hansel on bass & vocals, Noah Dobbie on guitar, ukulele, mandolin and vocals & Erin O'Rourke who plays guitar & bass and is the fourth singer in their quadruple harmonies. They are joined on this 14 Records recording by drummer Jeremy Walker whose contribution, adding additional sounds on top of their already honed arrangement which in less skilful hands might be inappropriate & intrusive, instead beautifully complements what was already there.
So what can I say having built up such a level of expectation? No existing Evergreen fan will be unaware of this song as it is a highlight of their live work. Each member brings their unique writing style & compositions to the band: some songs clearly predate the band itself & in fact I have also heard Tyron & Rikki play "Sunny Lady" pre-Evergreen.
Over the past few months I have been urging/pestering them to record material to share their talent as widely as possible but they have been insistent (I applaud them for this) on spending time to get it right & capture the essence of the songs as well on record as they come across in live performance.
The wait & diligence has been worth it. From the very first bass notes, the song pulls you right in & it feels like Evergreen are playing a special gig just for you in your living room.
With musicians this good playing a song they know so well and with the love which characterises all they do, how can they go wrong? All the classic elements of their sound are there: tasteful, assured & compelling instrumentation, blissful harmonies and a skilfully crafted song. Just right for the end of summer, this song glows out of your speakers, evoking, as I have said before, the music of the late 60s/early 70s when a blues "revival" met the Californian vibe of bands like the Mamas & Papas: there is certainly evocation but this is not an exercise in nostalgia (let's face it none of them were born in that era) nor a retro facsimile: just four totally honest musicians doing what they want to do & wearing their influences openly on their sleeves.
Evergreen are setting tongues wagging on the local scene & are clearly off on a great journey. They waltzed "Godiva Calling" in the face of superb competition to grace the Main Stage & expect to see much more of them: if you haven't yet, please do. This record is an excellent calling card to promote their music to a wider audience & deserves to do really well: it's really catchy, it is beautifully made & best of all it hits you where it matters; in the heart. Full marks to Evergreen.
I understand that Evergreen are also working with Jeremy & 14 Records to produce an EP, so listen out for that too.
Evergreen at the Magic Lantern
I flatter myself that some of you may remember my reviewing the Hansel Brothers in the past for "Hot Music Live" (most recently on February 10th). At any rate, I enthused over this dynamic act & the verve, musicianship & enthusiasm they brought to their chiefly covers set. I also noted how intrigued I was by their compelling originals, a few of which they dropped into their set. Afterwards I urged singer/bassist Tyron & guitarist/harmonica player/singer Rikki to play a whole set of these soon.
I was therefore delighted to attend their gig last night at the Magic Lantern for such a set, played as ‘Evergreen', their new originals band which also features the considerable talents of two local writers & musicians, Erin O'Rourke (who mainly played guitar but switched to playing Tyron's left handed bass upside down for the encore: no mean feat considering the strap issues the instrument had) and Noah Dobbie (who switched between ukulele to guitar)
The first thing to note is that by any definition, this was great music. The second was that I, and the entire audience, enjoyed it very much. But possibly not quite as much as the band. I don't think I've seen a band show so much joy for what they do in a long long time & it was both refreshing & uplifting. This really makes a difference live: they clearly work very hard on the technicalities of their craft but having mastered it, play with absolute pleasure in what they are doing.
This began from the start when Rikki & Tyron played a warm up set of their favourite covers (I refer you to my February piece for many of the details of this part), culminating in an extraordinary version of "A Quick One While He's Away" which while mostly lovingly faithful to the Who's original, stretched certain sections out to great effect.
After the break, the four piece were frankly magnificent. I had remarked on how the Hansel Brothers seemed to have a great love of late 60s early 70s bluesy rock type material in terms of their originals & this is to some extent the basis of Evergreen's material overall (and remember that there are four writers contributing): they cite influences such as the Band, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Fleetwood Mac etc & these are all detectable: one would also be remiss not to mention the Mamas & Papas given that Evergreen essentially deploy four part harmonies throughout: Rikki stated that he finds crafting these harder than working out his accomplished lead guitar parts, which shows the work they have put in. Rikki's guitar work is superb throughout and all four are great instrumentalists with the webs of guitars, bass, uke & harmonica weaving through their singing.
All the songs played were of the highest standard, memorable & impacting instantly on those of us who had not heard them before. I'd love the band to release them & I gather recording experiments are taking place, though sensibly with caution: these songs work so well live that it is really important that recordings reflect them properly. In the meantime you need to see & hear them live: and that's a real imperative.
This was my debut Evergreen gig & I'm still buzzing with what I experienced from this talented supergroup. I really look forward to seeing them as often as I can. This band have everything they require to move on up & win many hearts. They are already attracting loads of attention from local radio stations interested in roots music & are, I am delighted to report, through to the ‘Godiva Calling' final: if you can, support them please at the New Albany in Coventry on May 31st (it's a Friday) to help them get the Main Stage slot they deserve at the 2019 Godiva Festival.
Check out their page https://www.facebook.com/evergreenharmonies/ for future live dates: I'm hoping we can welcome them back to the Magic Lantern before too long also.
You can also catch Noah playing a solo set supporting Man Made Moon on June 14th at the Magic Lantern