Debut single by ClemencyReview
The APE Promotions nights organised by Johnny Satsangi can be very loud, powerful & even raucous affairs. I have heard some of the most exciting & primal performances & left with my ears ringing.
However, the evenings tend also to appeal to the broad minded among music lovers & Johnny never fails to deliver at least one act unfamiliar to me & I suppose many others, which then captures my imagination. It also means that the audience is very open to acts which are not rock-based not necessarily loud. It saddened me to talk to a well known local band recently who were reluctant to appear on any bill with acts apart from ones which sounded much like they did themselves: never underestimate your audience.
All of which is a slightly deviating way of getting round to one of the highlights (for me) of a recent APE night, one who certainly stood out in terms of sheer quality and also in contrast to the other acts that night: and yes, they went down extremely well among an audience there for the punky stuff.
That band, as you'll have deduced from the title, was Clemency. New to me that evening, even though I had seen Ben Clempson play bass with Satsangi on many occasions, here he was on acoustic guitar & vocals with Nina Bailey on vocals & cajon.
They had me hooked from the outset. Virtuoso performers to be sure, but also emotionally captivating. You don't need myriad amplified elements to create dynamics necessarily, though I guess it does leave the instruments and voices more exposed: risky possibly but Clemency have the skills, experience & commitment to pull it off.
That evening was near the start of their musical journey & when I expressed my admiration to them, at that stage recording was a plan rather than an accomplished deed.
Since then, they have been recording with some top local studios & the results are starting to impact on audiences beyond their live gigs.
First out is their debut single "Man at the Station"
I think it's an excellent choice as it certainly showcases their talents well: a very driving song which motors along with the dynamics I mentioned earlier & a memorable melody to linger in the mind and they seem utterly at ease with the demands of the technicalities the track poses.
It also sets out their stall for their own individual style well: there is no way they would have had the impact on me so swiftly had they merely been competent interpreters in a recognised genre. They operate way beyond that.
Someone described them to me as "folk" (must be looking at those acoustic instruments) which although partially true, is insufficient by a long chalk. Yes, melodically you can hear the sort of thing Sandy Denny etc did in Nina's voice but she doesn't remind me of any particular other singer: this is her own vocal style & not trying to emulate anyone else. Equally, the music seems to have more in common with American folk blues (and the lyrics also reflect this). What drew me to it also was some echo of the marvelous work the late Ronnie Lane did with Slim Chance in the 1970s: and I'm not sure anyone calls that "folk". I liked it a great deal & those I have played it to (including some radio show presenters) were greatly impressed too.
I am looking forward to hearing this song & many more at the "Hot Music Live Introducing" night at the Zephyr Lounge on October 20th (in conjunction with "Alternative Sounds", Ella B Music & Peter Drew Productions) at which Clemency are performing.
"Man at the Station" can be bought at: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/man-at-the-station-single/1427679820
You can hear it on Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/track/3itvctxPFwQZtcVFJf9cTF?si=8zNn8Q8qSVmo4dAf_UhJdg
There is a video here: https://www.facebook.com/Clemencyduo/videos/2086284181629764/