Apple & Parrot Presents - Acoustic Sessions Vol. One in Aid of Oxjam 
Apple & Parrot - Acoustic Sessions Volume 1

So, this is a bit different. When I was invited on to BBC Radio Devon recently to be an 'expert' and critique some new local artists, I was delighted to have this CD thrust in to my greasy mits as this is a compilation of some of the best acoustic artists around. These recordings have been gathered together by the Apple & Parrot in Torquay, a venue that goes way beyond just supporting live music through its Apple & Parrot Academy which helps musicians with everything from recording to video production. What's even better is that this CD has been produced with the additional purpose of supporting the wonderfully worthy Oxjam charity so it literally couldn't be better intentioned. Anyway, there are 11 artists to get through so let's crack on...

The collection opens with new LWM favourites Sound Of the Sirens and a cracking version of 'Who We Are' from the recent debut album and it is incredibly pleasing to hear that their vocal harmonies and layered lyrics stand up so well in a live forum. Andy Quick of Plymouth band Land Of The Giants is up next with a subdued but beautifully performed version of 'Jackpot Dave', complete with some luscious female backing vocals to add another layer of richness. Poster Child are up next with 'Crazy' which sounds like an a capella version of an r'n'b, funk smash from the likes of Justin Timberlake which is not only refreshing but also incredibly engaging on a compilation of this kind.

Next up is AJ Chapman featuring some guest work by Rich Cottell and Lawrence Giles as they perform 'Had Your Chance' which is in the James Morrison vein of acoustic funk and is perfectly well performed but doesn't really last long in my memory. Jack Tucker's 'Rocket Science' is akin to a modern take on the blues with a feel of Aloe Blacc and a little of the Parov Stelar's of this world about it - atmospheric and groovy in equal measure. The horribly named Babysnakes follow with 'Fireflies' which is a gentle, meandering piece of loveliness with shuffling drums and some gorgeous lap steel work that I have to admit I am a bit of a sucker for. The Summertides have, in 'Rotterdam', created a piece of travelling folk-pop that should only be listened to while driving a knackered old campervan to an unknown destination. They put me in mind of the Beautiful South, Fairground Attraction or the Bluebells and that may not be good news to them but that's what my ears tell me and the day I stop trusting my ears is the day I stop listening to music!

Cydney Brown
So far, this collection has been suprisingly dominated by male musicians so I was pleased when Sophie Dewoody popped up with 'Jump With You', a soulful and funky acoustic tune that shows off Ms Dewoody's undeniable vocal talents perfectly despite the brevity of the tune. The pace is taken down quite a few notches when Cydney Brown comes along with 'The Fog' and her dreamy, dulcet tones drift from the speakers like a comforting blanket of sound on a cold night. Brown's power and range is impressive as is her ability to switch from understated and delicate to strident and defiant at the flick of a wrist. Matthew Porosa has a gravelly tone that would go down extremely well in America or on Radio 2 as songs like 'Soak' will appeal to the romance starved demographic who will swoon and sigh at his every 'ugh' and 'ooh'. Finally, we finish up with Owen Penrice and the unimaginatively titled 'Slow Song' which has a great sense of humour and rawness about it that reminds me of early Paolo Nutini in a good way.

On this showing, you have to say there is a great smattering of talent out there and big props should go to all the artists and the Apple & Parrot for pulling this together to support a great charity and show off the talent on offer. One thing I feel the South West has always lacked is some kind of 'scene' in the way that Manchester, Liverpool, Camden and Glasgow - among others - seem to manage with such ease. Maybe this can be the start of something approaching a scene - I am encouraged that this is tantalisingly entitled 'Volume 1' and look forward to the follow up.
More information:

Apple & Parrot -
Sound Of The Sirens -
Andy Quick (Land Of The Giants) -
Poster Child -
AJ Chapman -
Jack Tucker -
Babysnakes -
The Summertides -
Sophie Dewoody -
Cydney Brown -
Matthew Porosa -

Owen Penrice -