Clemency at the Magic LanternReview
As I was sitting watching Clemency last evening at the Magic Lantern, the thought which went through my head was ‘how lucky I am' to be there in the presence of such wonderfully adept & joyous musicianship. I could hardly be the only one as the venue was packed to capacity. The word about this astoundingly accomplished duo is building rapidly & I can see no obvious limits to where their music might go: I certainly assume that once the festival circuit which puts on acts under various banners such as folk, roots, Americana etc gets them on their radar they'll be in substantial demand.
I reviewed them in the same intimate, full capacity setting as recently as December, so all that I said on that occasion holds good still: if not more so,
So what's new in the world of Clemency (who are of course Nina Bailey on vocals & cajon & Ben Clempson on guitar and vocals)? Well a great new song "Fly" has joined their set (they played it twice to the audience's delight: it is going to be their next single too). Some songs (and they have many: they played two sets and needed no support act) seem to have developed in their arrangements. The song I really liked in December about a man with "all the whisky" and many other things too, seemed to me to have gained a definite air of menace since last I heard it. Other songs ("Walk the Land" being one of my big favourites) just get better and better: the understanding between the two musicians is so strong (no doubt they rehearse hard too) that the songs have an innate power and beauty despite the paucity of instruments. Indeed they really rock what might be described as folk songs & folk songs with a great deal of internal musical structure & sophistication. I was sat in front of Ben & simply could not keep up with his playing: like many great performers, they make things sound wonderfully simple and affective while in fact there is great musical complexity in there. The same might be said for their vocals: again only two voices but both the harmonies in terms of lead/backing but also many genuine two part leads are breathtaking & at times I could hear three of them: the two constituent parts plus the combination.
From time to time they sing solo too which just goes to showcase their talents in that department: Nina has one of those great classic folk singing styles which adds great character and meaning to the words.
As previously noted, although I used certain generic labels earlier (can't say I much like that but it does help sometimes to get a picture of an act across to those unfamiliar with them), their approach, especially with their covers is extremely eclectic: funk, rock, r&b and soul all put in an appearance & receive the distinctive Clemency makeover.
So I'll sign off where I began & suggest that you don't just take my word for it: see and hear for yourselves.