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Friday, 23 September 2011

Su Casa - Little Fire/ Emma Forman/Taylor Buntain/Trusty and the Foe

On this dark and chilly evening the light that spills from Su Casa is a welcoming sight.
Outside it's sodium street lighting, empty shadows and hot breath being snatched away by an icy breeze, while inside it's warm, softly lit and imbued with the aroma of fresh coffee.
Sinking into a leather couch I pour myself some wine and relax as Little Fire eases everyone into the nights entertainment.
He reminds me of a young David Gray when he was still raw and had the rough edges that success ultimately smoothed off.
It's intimate and immediate with no sense of artifice in the performance.
Instead it's the perfect fit for the surroundings and sets the tone perfectly for what will follow and that's Emma Forman.
She's tiny. A little bundle of talent making tentative steps forward into the consciousness of the audience.
In the space of three songs more ground is covered than would initially be expected.
The song choices seems to be made to give a fuller representation of what her oeuvre is rather than focussing on here recent output, and as a novice to seeing her perform live it was a welcomed introduction.
Emma is the sort of artist that would fit rather snugly into a Lilith Fair line up, and while some men would baulk at that I certainly wouldn't.
She has all the charm and talent required to beguile, and similar to artists like Suzanne Vega and Ani Difranco there is the ability to move from one smaller pool to make a splash in a bigger one. Especially as she seems to have the knack to sound like virtually every female star who has stepped into the spotlight in the last thirty years.
Very impressive. So much so that I now have four of her self released albums in my possession.
The next act was the first band that I've seen play Su Casa.
A duo going by the name of Trusty and the Foe who keep it simple with just a couple of acoustic guitars and a single voice.
There's nothing that urgent about what the do, and instead it has a relaxed ambience to it. A beautiful escapist feel that lulls the listener with intricate guitar playing bolstered with some lovely vocals.
Everything they do seems to have to have a great deal of room to breath and there's nothing discordant or jarring about it all.
Instead there's some hints of Jeff Buckley when he was at his introspectively best, but without the wailing, and there's even a little nod towards Simon and Garfunkel.
The main thing that I got from it was the balance though.
The music and vocals snugly fit together so closely that any seam is invisible.
Unfortunately, and it pains me to say this, but Taylor Buntain, who followed them, just didn't grab me.
His guitar playing is beyond criticism, but the songs and his vocals are at odds.
He's drifting, slapping on the body work, tapping on strings and making the guitar talk, but over this is a rather mundane vocal delivery and lyrically the material seems a few steps behind the musicianship that's on display.
Can you imagine Paco del Lucia playing and then bursting into song with a singing voice like Kermit the Frog.
Not that I'm using Kermit as a comparison to Taylors vocals, but instead I'm simply going to an extreme to illustrate a point.
The way I see it is that the option is there to either tone down the musicianship to match the song-writing and vocal delivery, or up the quality of the song-writing and have someone on vocals that can keep up with the musicianship.
At the moment it is like trying to fit two pieces of a jigsaw together and then realizing that both pieces are from different boxes.
There's untapped potential there, but Taylor is still looking for the key to unlock it.
Within the set is a singular instrumental and if that was all I had seen then I would have been raving about the performance, but I really have to say that much of the set detracted from it.
As the headlining act of the evening. Alan Frew, was a no show Trusty and the Foe very kindly returned to play another few songs, and even threw in a covering of the Smiths 'This Charming Man' to the audiences delight.
In its entirety it was another successful, if maybe a little under attended, evening in Su Casa, and even for Taylor Buntain I seen more to his set than I had previously.
Maybe given a bit of familiarity I'll get it.
(Just as a side note I'll add that my girlfriend Kel, and myself, took her eleven year old daughter with us, and although it was a late night for a midweek outing she had a great time and even bought a Emma Forman CD for herself as well as muching out on the free nachos)


  1. Definitely a fantastic night. Two in a row. Seems a pity that I missed the past year in su casa. Keep up the good work,!

  2. Thanks Mark. It's a grewat wee venue. I can't praise it high enough or the work that goes into keeping it fresh.

  3. Great even. It's been a long night. :)