For their final 'Rush Hour Social' concert this season - a series of free one hour long concerts held in the foyer, and this season celebrating emerging local singer / songwriters - it was the turn of Country singer from Hebden Bridge, Sarah Watson.
Having turned forty and turned a milestone in her life, realising that she just simply had to be a Country singer, she has been writing original material and gigging for just over a year now and this evening gave her first ever performance in Manchester city.
The concert featured a few cover songs interspersed with her own compositions, and seated with guitar in hand, her style was very informal, relaxed and, once she had conquered the nerves, quite chatty and informative. Introducing each song and giving a little background to the song. Not much, but just enough to create an interest in her music and want to listen to it.
We discovered through these snippets that she has a partner and children, and only really truly 'discovered' Country music and her talent and passion for it when she turned 40 and her friend encouraged her to sing. She later wrote a song about it which she sang this evening; a catchy tune with a nice lyric, flirting cleverly with major and minor, 'I'm Changing My View'.
We also learned that she is atheist, and was inspired to write a song which stemmed from an interesting conversation she had with a devout Muslim, both being in awe of each others' views on life. the culminating song is entitles, 'Hymn To The Atheist' and is actually a far more religious song than perhaps Watson would care to admit.
As with all her songs, they are perfectly crafted. The lyrics, unlike a lot of Country, are not banal and repetitive, but come from a different place and are sensibly worked through, with 'traditional' country style melodies and running bass lines, she has somehow created something which is possibly quite unique to her. I am also eternally grateful that she didn't wear a Stetson and 'put-on' an American twang!
With a soft and surprisingly lyrical soprano voice, she gave each song her own personal twist, but her roots firmly grounded in the traditions of the likes of Lee Ann Womack, Patsy Cline and even perhaps Brenda Lee and Crystal Gayle. Perhaps the most noteworthy of the songs to 'hat-nod' to those aforementioned artistes was her song about her father, growing up in rural Wales with her ex-policeman father, sometime s a little over the limit driving up and down those country lanes. A lovely pastiche song called, 'Reminded Of You'.
Finishing with the title track from her first album, 'Mother's Girl', Watson delighted us with her assured and relaxed style and sweet mellow voice.
Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 15/5/18