Wednesday 22 April 2015

Judith Owen - Ebb and Flow

Judith Owen
Never have I seen an audience purr like they did in the hands of singer-songwriter Judith Owen at Bush Hall (16/03/2015). You expect applause, a wolf whistle or two, maybe even a heckle if you rub them up the wrong way. The packed out crowd sat firmly in Owen's lap, eager to be stroked by her tender and heartfelt voice. Judith Owen is no Blofeld from James Bond fame but we felt as deliciously helpless as his unnamed pussy in You Only Live Twice.

Pedro Segundo - percussion
This was the end of her Ebb & Flow album tour, encompassing a group of songs that evoke the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 70s troubadours. There were songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair. She touches upon the tightrope walk of the human condition with honesty and tenderness. Joining on her stage was a stellar line up of musicians with Leland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and a man I have frequently drawn on the London circuit Pedro Segundo (percussion).

Leland Sklar - bass
Segundo was described as 'easy on the eye' by Judith Owen and his Dreamboat Willie demeanour hadn't gone unnoticed amongst the crowd although the man himself squirmed in modesty a few times. It was he who led us into 'In the Summertime' which had a rich and creamy consistency, rather than the hopping cricket of Mungo Jerry here we were lifted on one of those soft breezes that doesn't cool but elevates, invariably to higher planes.

Russ Kunkel - drums
'Under the door' caught the imagination not only for it's narrative but for it's title. There is never an opportunity to comment on the title of songs for it is both a very personal decision by the musician and a shot in the dark. We sat in those shadow and the light did indeed peak under the aforementioned door. What started as finger tips of golden luminance crept in lengthening phalanxes and eventually cracked into tumbling sparks. These burgeoning stars came alive before our eyes and fizzed like fireflies in the blackness, it was a pulse, stronger than any electrical current.

There is a simplicity about Judith Owen's delivery, as well as putting the crowd at ease you could feel the tightness as they strained forward to listen. She squeezed the meaning from her words, gently plucking out meanings by capturing time itself. There was an economy with such a precious commodity and she never expelled it recklessly, nor wasted. It felt like time would never run out.

Throughout May and June 2015 Judith Owen will be opening for Bryan Ferry from Belfast to Bristol and plenty in between.


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