Live review: Duotone + Germa Adan, Kitchen Garden Café – 06/09/16

Germa Adan, half of Scottish/Haitian folk world duo the Adan Project, takes us on a transatlantic journey of childhood memories spent in Haitian cornfields, rendered in French Creole, through American Bluegrass to her current situation beneath twinkling fairy lights in a South Birmingham suburb. This, she explains is the result of being recently awarded the EFDSS Creative Seed Funding to write music that chronicles her voyage from Haiti and the US to the UK. Her interpretation of old folk songs delivered by violin, guitar and vocals leaves the audience chirping along as she explores what it means to go home.

Duotone aka Barney Morse-Brown, continues along the same theme of how a sense of place and belonging influences his music. With hypnotic cello that has accompanied the likes of Birdy and The Imagined Village and lyrics that ask you to “drink it all in”, there are times when you find yourself completely swept away in the moment. By his own admission, it takes him a while to warm up and feel comfortable addressing the audience, but his staccato talking harbours a wry humour and a sense of the Journeyman starts to emerge that endears him and roots him to the present, capturing his essence before he moves on to the next phase in his life.

Songs such as Bones and Walking To The Shore, inspired by his time living by the sea in Dorset, veer away from the cello and plaintive vocals combination, incorporating the more experimental elements of looped vocals and drum machine. Add to this the very effective seagull cawing created on the cello and the songs become more part of a sonic palette than just elements of a continuing story. Little White Caravan brings electric guitar into the mix to create a beautifully textured track.  Duotone also has the uncanny ability to just pluck a grove from nowhere and take a song into an entirely new direction. The way he brings his main set to a close by bowing the cello to within an inch of its life, narrowly avoiding a string snapping frenzy is remarkable. A doff of his tweed cap, like a court entertainer, brings an added sense of occasion and you come away from the experience feeling generally more wholesome.

Words: Andrew Gutteridge


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