10th May | Grain Barge
This night at The Grain Barge was hosted by the weekly open mic organiser and violinist/rapper Mike Dennis; we sat in the belly of the boat, which was clad with rough-cut, painted planks of wood. Sitting halfway out of the water, the room was ambiently lit and quite the definition of cosy. I’d imagine the subconscious sway of the water had a soothing effect on the senses too.
Raevennan Husbandes started her set with ‘Box of Innocence’ from her initial debut effort of the same name. The music almost hovered in the manner she played, with a gentle pace and sparse delicate string plucks. Her voice, likewise, had an almost feathery touch but a strong steer and powerful projection where desired.
Having proved herself an exceptional musician over the years, Raevennan has dipped in and out of fellow collaborators’ compositions with ease and watching her solo, you could see an indisputable joy in what she was doing. Seeming to almost mesmerise herself, with a look of joyous concentration, an occasional smirk and highly animated eyebrows, there was a complete absence of any smugness in her ability, but rather an overt love for her art and performance.
The set maintained a definite traditional folk sound throughout. The autumnal artwork that came with the Box of Innocence release felt highly appropriate to the music. A melancholy thread ran through the songs and her heartfelt delivery had a way of getting below your cynical radar.
The track ‘Solitude and Stone’ (based on a true story), containing the line, “time won’t fix what we’ve been through,” built to a powerful finish with the vocals welling up to passionate and captivating peak and the emotional core of the song strongly enveloping the imagination. A lyric such as this would have fallen flat with many other performers, but here it cut straight through with credibility and conviction.
There were various former co-writes and collaborative efforts featured, including one from Magic Numbers member, Michelle Stoddart. It incorporated some lovely mid-range warbling worthy of Fleetwood Mac amidst the swooping melodies. Also we were treated to an older track, written by former Robbie Williams writer, Guy Chambers.
On this song in particular with its grand soulful style Raevennan’s voice seemed to shift up a gear and cut through the air almost transcendentally. There was a real tingle in the room at this point. Although saying that, we had all been revelling in that fuzzy feeling she’d created in the opening seconds and had listened in attentive near silence throughout.
After mentioning how she was enjoying writing and performing more of her own music recently, she played one of her self-written tracks, which she described as an “ode to a seaside town” that she’d just had to get out of years ago. This song in particular bloomed with energy and vocal prowess. The lyric “all love will ebb away until there’s nothing left but pain” was another that many a performer would have never got away with, but here soared immaculately within the song.
She seemed to have well and truly relaxed by this point. She loosed herself from what seemed like a slight anxiety buried beneath the surface, especially in the first half of her set which couldn’t have been more misplaced. If the final song was a example of some of the work yet to come, it will be well worth keeping an eye out for Raevennan Husbandes over the course of the year.