From Nashville to Netley – Jenn Bostic, Sarah Darling, Kyshona Armstrong Chapel Sessions
With the media awash with ‘Bake offs, bread and buns’ the finest sweet things on the well crafted menu at Chapel Sessions were three of the most natural ingredients on the singer songwriter circuit today, performing individually and in harmony ‘A Night in Nashville – stories and songs in the round from Music City’ featuring tracks from their back catalogue, plus present and future songs on upcoming, soon to be released albums.
A capacity St Edwards Church, Netley, the acoustically acclaimed beautifully lit, temporary home for the community led not for profit music series that seems to have the knack of welcoming highly renowned international artists to ‘a doorstep near you’ filling a previously barren gap in the world music scene juxtaposed between Bournemouth and Brighton.
The ingredients, all highly acclaimed singer songwriters in their own right hit the right notes with the audience many of whom had seen Jenn Bostic at a 200 seat full house Chapel Sessions back in 2013, when she toured with her band and support from Emma Stevens and Daisy Chapman. Once dubbed ‘too pop for country and too country for pop’ this time she returned ‘stripped back’ with just her trusty Nord keyboard, and two good friends, met whilst touring and at songwriting workshops in the US, for their first extensive tour of UK – Sarah Darling who earlier this year played Country2Country Music Festival at O2 Arena and previously played Grand Ole Opry with Brad Paisley, plus Kyshona Armstrong’s soulful, gospel, blues infused songs for her first foray to the UK.
Powerful voices graced the intimate stage. Re-living heartfelt words and painting portraits with the chords. If smiles could be turned into ‘Bake off surprises’ then the full ‘a la carte’ menu was on offer that night.
Darling opened her set of self penned songs with her current single full of cheekiness, catchy lyrics and ‘can’t stop humming appeal’ – ‘You take me all the way’. ‘Little Umbrellas’ echoed in lights at the back of the church was a fun catchy song that had everyone joining in. Back to the Country Roots from her upcoming album ‘Dream Country,’ her song ‘Where Cowboys Ride’ brought a blast from long gone cowboy movies and the romance of the dusty plains. The clear starlit night with an almost full moon was the perfect backdrop to ‘Halleys Comet’ – a place for me to shine, her signature inspirational song.
Love featured widely as the romanticism of ‘Montemarte’ holds a special place in Darling’s heart with the cobbled streets and a penchant for French macarons, the song preceded a romantic trip to Paris with her English husband.
Bostic’s current single from the album Faithful -‘What love feels like’ BBC Radio 2 playlisted for the 3rd week was delivered with powerful prowess with harmonies from the other two singers, the whole church was tingling with trepidation.
‘Not Yet’ a powerful song of perseverance and tenacity, rose to a powerful crescendo that had so much feeling the throat felt every emotion.
The whole audience were engaged in a rousing clapping and singing reverberating chorus of gospel like ‘Raise ‘em up Hollywood’ which really felt uplifting as did ‘Little Grace’, in a waltzy style about not being judgmental of others.
There were also songs reminiscent of Vaudeville and burlesque in the programme with a touch of humorous theatricals about them such is the confidence of these three great fun loving songstresses.
Armstrong led the audience in stories of her Grandpa with Grandpa’s Song ‘Had a Dream’ – as indeed we all need dreams in this life. ‘Lonely’ penned with Bostic in her early days in Nashville, when loneliness was her only companion, provided an insight into being surrounded by a crowd yet still feeling lonely.
‘Do nothing’ was a powerful reflection of her early days as a music therapist.
The title track of Kyshona’s new album ‘The Ride’ about finding your own way in life, proved apocryphal as they had certainly been on a ride around UK including first time UK drivers Kyshona Armstrong and Sarah Darling with adventures worthy of a future song title.
Every single word to every song could be heard and in pin-drop silence Jenn sang her signature song ‘Jealous of the Angels’ – an emotional song borne out of tragedy but bringing hope and comfort to so many. A real ‘Showstopper’.
The trio ended the evening with a moving cover of Eva Cassidy’s ‘Fields of Gold’ which brought a standing ovation and the trip of over 4,000 miles from Nashville to Netley, that the whole UK tour was built around, was certainly appreciated by the Chapel Sessions audience who await their future return.