By Gaz Williams
One of the joys of C2C is hearing exciting new talent emerging from our own shores. The Main Stage might have the big hitters of US country music. But during the day, the O2 comes alive with an array of British artists performing sets on stages right across the venue. Here are a few of our ‘UK Country Acts to Watch’ over the next twelve months:
Their blistering set on the Icon Stage certainly drew in the crowds, making them one of the most exciting prospects to appear on the scene since The Wandering Hearts. But whilst The Hearts bring a distinct country flavour to their brand of Americana, Morganway infuse theirs with a whole lot of rock, creating an explosive, sometimes ethereal, sound in the process. With an album due later this year, expect their stock to rise significantly over the next few months.
Led by charismatic frontman Richie Prynne, CC Smugglers have been making small but significant waves across the UK for a number of years now. Notorious for their “Guerrilla busking”, the band are releasing a self-made documentary series about life on the road to coincide with their debut album. Both will surely be consumed by all who witnessed their enthralling and entertaining sets at C2C. Mixing country, jazz, swing – a real crossover of genres – their full band sound is a joy to behold. Catch them at smaller venues while you can.
Holly Rose Webber
Holly Rose Webber digs deep into the bluesy roots of country. Her powerful vocals resounded loudly and clearly around the O2. Understated in her performance, Webber nevertheless hooks the audience in with her soulful voice and punchy delivery.
Molly-Anne’s set was the perfect way to end the weekend. The independent artist from Gloucestershire brought a gentle charm and elegance to her performance, perfectly matched by the light and lucid sound of her music. Inspired by the folk tradition of Bob Dylan et al, you could clearly hear a sense of place running through her work. It reminded me of the wistfulness of Kitty MacFarlane, but with a slightly harder edge.
The Irish-born singer-songwriter is currently working on a new album with The Dunwells. And if the new material she performed on the Icon Stage is anything to go by, I think it’s going to do incredibly well. Her song ‘Ireland’ captures a longing and love for her homeland, and could do for O’Neill what ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ has done for Ashley McBryde. Exciting times are ahead for the presenter of Around the Sound.
Jessie Buckley (and Wild Rose)
Although not literally at C2C, Jessie Buckley still managed to make a firm impression on country music fans during the screening of new film Wild Rose. The BAFTA-nominated actress gives an incredible performance as Rose-Lyn, an ex-convict who dreams of making it as a country singer. It is an emotional, hard-hitting, and inspiring film that will be a must-see when it is released in cinemas next month (April 12th). Buckley even gets to sing an original track – ‘Glasgow’