"Very few songwriters in the country realm are incorporating piano in their songs and Bryan does it exceptionally well."
Hussy Hicks created one impressive and soulful sound as the opening act at the latest showcase evening presented by Lost Highway Records. Their blend of country, blues, jazz and soul is grounded in Julz Parker's consummate guitar playing and Leesa Gentz's voice that swings from sweet country melodies to full-blooded soul screams as they played off each other with wide grins and relaxed banter.
Imogen Clark's voice is a strong instrument; rich and confident, it soared and wove tight melodies around her folk/country songs. When her band left the stage briefly the audience were given an insight into one of her influences with a solo Joni Mitchell cover, and though it wasn't her song, her performance suggested that a full solo set would give Clark more space and spotlight to convey herself and her abilities without a full band dissipating some of her personality.
Lachlan Bryan recently released his strongest album to date in The Mountain and this was a chance to showcase most of that record and highlights from a strong back catalogue. With his core band The Wildes backing him, he began the show with a couple of songs from behind a piano including the recent single Afraid Of The Light. Very few songwriters in the country realm are incorporating piano in their songs and Bryan does it exceptionally well, adding a more soul and jazz barroom flavour. Most of the set saw him standing with guitar in hand but he did return to the piano stool for an exceptional duet cover of Ryan Adams' Oh My Sweet Carolina with Clark. The Wildes are one of those bands that make the music sound easy on the ear — not in an easy listening way, but in the sense that it flows with minimal exertion and maximum weight. Coupled with Bryan's world class Americana songwriting, their set was a masterclass of how to present country music without pastiche or pretence.