Emily BarkerThere is nothing quite like being caught off guard by great music. Nothing. It’s the best thing that can happen to you.

It happened to us last week, sat at home watching Later Live on the Beeb.

Jools Holland introduced a singer and she set about singing her song. Simple. Yet rarely is simple quite so beautiful too.

It should be, true, but it’s not – and the performance of ‘Aretha’ by Rumer brought the house down. Well, our house at least…

And it got us thinking. You can’t pick up a magazine, read or a newspaper or switch on the radio these days without being told about the next Amy Winehouse or Duffy. Nevermind the fact that, combined, both singers have released only three records.

What happened to artists being allowed to develop and mature at their own pace?

Bob Dylan wouldn’t have gone electric, The Human League wouldn’t have
found the girls (let alone ‘Dare’) and Kate Bush would have been left in that lionsuit for all eternity. Actually, come to think about it…

We digress. The point? Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo are coming to town this weekend and you should go and see them. When we first did around a year ago, they blew us away.

How? Because Emily Barker’s songs lift her above the modern-day Florence Welch-esque stop gaps.

These are tunes steeped in the 70s song writing traditions set by Carole King and Neil Young. Throw in some quirky, English folk idioms and The Red Clay Halo meander nicely around that beautiful port where the ship of alt-folk docks at the bay of proper pop.

Melodious, harmonious and contagious, Barker’s songs grab your attention and keep it. The Red Clay Halo brings the colour too – with help from fiddle, cello, accordion and gorgeous harmonies.

All this set in the chilled-out confines of Leaf Tea Shop. Perfect Sunday
evening entertainment.

Hey, who says you can’t have everything?

Alan O’Hare. Photo by Leonie Morse

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo, October 8
Leaf Tea Shop, Parliament Street, Liverpool.

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