Paul James and The Drowned Lovers with support from HendrickxRoy at Arlington Arts on Thursday, May 26 Review by BRIAN HARRINGTON
If ever a show proved beyond doubt that folk/country music is incredibly diverse and varied, this was it. Trying to categorize the music into genres is risky at best – tonight it would have been totally inappropriate.
The Newbury area was significant, as both HendricksRoy and Paul James have strong ties to the town and both paid tribute by covering a track each, by the much-loved local singer/songwriter, the late Des Simmons, who they knew well.
Local duo HendrickxRoy (Maia Hendrickx and Calum Roy) opened the proceedings with an excellent and inventive set featuring Calum on a range of acoustic guitars and Maia on electric bass.
Playing a mixture of self-written tracks and surprising covers, which had been reinvented and rearranged in a very creative way, they impressed and entertained at the same time. The new song know who you are and Rust Belt City were prime examples of the first while All shouted (Alison Moyet) and no ordinary love (Sade) have been superbly revived.
Paul James joined them to play sax on a version of Des Simmons Down to the river.
Paul James And the Drowned Lovers are about to start a European mini-tour and put together a set rich in complex rhythms and intricate arrangements, a sonic puzzle that requires extremely skilled musicianship. A highly accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Paul is a member of the near-legendary Blowzabella. His group is just as talented and impressive. Again, there was a mix of original material and covers. Opening with what Paul described as “a medieval song about dying for love” before playing the standard drowned lover it was a master class in folk taken in original and unexpected directions. The instrumental Once upon a time there was a lone wolf was amazing and his cover of Des Simmons big corn really poignant.
The reminder of Please, please, please let me get what I want (a song by the Smiths) was the excellent final twist, in a night full of inventive and creative music.