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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bev Lee Harling wants you to buy her

Bev Lee Harling's cheeky, cabaret-style show has had me transfixed twice now.

First of all she supported The Destroyers at Wilton's marvellous Music Hall before Christmas, where she wandered into the middle of the auditorium playing a fiddle before clambering on stage to chop vegetables suggestively and treat a number of kitchen implements, a power drill and a typewriter as if they had been designed with percussion in mind. I couldn't help noticing that on stage with her as one of her Kitchen Sink Band was Frank Moon, who's also in one of my favourite outfits, The Urban Folk Quartet.

It turned out that Bev is Frank's missus, loosely speaking, which was interesting in a kind of Do all the good bands know each other? kind of a way. (I'd also discovered that evening that Frank's played with The Destroyers.)

Then, a few days later with a sense of growing disorientation that partly abated when I remembered that I'd been invited to The Mediaeval Baebes' gig at The Destroyers one by a PR, it materialised that Bev was also in The Mediaeval Baebes. She also began that show, walking down the aisle of a beautiful Christmassy church in the City wearing flowers in her hair and playing She Moved Through the Fair on her fiddle.

What these two performances had in common was certain kittenish theatricality.

So when she launched her first album, Barefoot in your Kitchen, slightly over a week ago in a noisy Friday-evening restaurant in Shoreditch I went along, mainly to see what would happen next? Would it turn out that Bev was also the long lost, non-identical twin sister of Josienne Clarke or that her album was being produced by someone from Smooth Operations, in which case I might be able to sell the rights to my blog as a kind of long-running soap opera for daytime TV.

In the event, nothing more improbable than a rather fine gig occurred, although it seemed a minor miracle that the incredibly noisy restaurant simmered down nearly entirely during the course of the set until by the end every head seemed to be turned Bev's way.

For the album is sheer delight.

I mean how could you not fall head over heels for musician who's written a song called Buy Me, to avoid having to point to the table with the CDs on it at gigs?

The songs are light, well-crafted, teasing fun that wouldn't be out of place in a burlesque environment. Bev's fine taste has been turned to producing something highly distinctive, beautifully musical and sexily theatrical. Buy Me is hilariously knowing and I also particularly enjoy Robots and Angels for it "zip boom" chorus, Tired of the City for the cameo of the child's voice and the wonderful stripped down cover of The Police's  Every little thing she does (is magic) on which Bev accompanies herself solo and pizzicato on the fiddle.

I can imagine seeing her on the telly and would love to see her festival gig list fill up for this summer because live she's enchanting, something that could only improve in the sunshine with a glass of cider. I hope you get a chance to see what I mean.

Love, love, love this album. It's just so much fun.

* Listen, buy, embed or download it here.

* Read another Bev Lee Harling related post here.

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