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Lovely Local Tales with Ellie Gowers

Ellie Gowers. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

Ellie Gowers and Friends, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on 15 June 2023.

Review by Anne Cee.

Ellie Gowers, local folk musician and Artist in Residence at Warwick Arts Centre was a lovely, disarmingly natural host for this evening of local music and verse. Ellie opened the show with one of her own songs accompanied only by her guitar. A refreshingly bare sound that worked well. Ellie’s sweet, pure voice might be best described by the ingredients of a scent created for her by a local aromatherapist - “with warm sandalwood and floral notes from rosewood, its earthy scents are balanced by the citrus zing of grapefruit” (Sage and Grace).

Six acts followed Ellie, offering a poem or a song in their own style, creating a uniquely eclectic mix. The deep velvety tones of Stylusboy told the story of John, a local man aged one hundred and two who had once wandered through the countryside for fourteen days and fourteen nights before being spotted and arrested as a spy. Yeva read her poems which included a captivating image of being “held without touch” by someone dear. Videesh took the energy levels up with a poppy number with sharp dance moves before Lauren South treated us to a song about a mermaid and a swimming lad as she produced drones on her shruti box. As you might expect, the swimming lad didn’t fare too well in the water despite the mermaid’s care and attention, but it was a captivating song with the narrative strength of folk music. Chin gave us a stirring cover of AC-DC track “The Jack” whilst Antonia gave what was only the second public performance of a song she wrote this month about Blossom who was feeling free in the first light of the morning.

Ellie Gowers. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

A highlight of the evening was Ellie leading a gentle ‘right to access the countryside’ song which was inspired by the recent land access restrictions on Dartmoor. The rousing chorus of “The stars are ours” was sung by all the performers and the audience, creating a uniting conclusion to the evening. I enjoyed it.

I would have liked to hear more of Ellie’s own music but I’ll have to wait for another event in coming months or perhaps listen to her new album 'Dwelling by the weir' with its songs of a ribbon weaver, a Warwickshire miner and the woman of the waterways, all inspired by wild swimming near the weir by Saxon Mill at Warwick. Or perhaps I’ll drop in to one of Ellie’s free Thursday evening song writing sessions for local people at Warwick Arts Centre before they break for the summer.

Ellie's debut album.

Lauren South can be found singing with her guitar, violin and shruti box at Warwick Folk Festival next month and Stylusboy has a new 'handmade indie folk' album, to be released in August.


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