A review of Josephine Sillars and Leah Gourley at The Tea Posy/The Greenhouse, Saturday March 17th 2012, by Mark Dubanowski. Photos by Mark Dubanowski.
Another Saturday goes by, and another Saturday Session was held within the walls of The Greenhouse, in The Tea Posy. As one of invernessGiGs’ ones to watch in 2012, I was excited to, finally, see Josephine Sillars play her own gig after getting a sample of her excellent musicianship at a previous Open Mic Session.
Breaking her performance up into two sets, the young, yet very talented, songwriter played a healthy mix of original material and cover songs. In amongst songs like ‘Middle Class Pretenders’ and ‘Expectations’, Josephine slipped in songs by Bob Dylan and The Calling. Playing such guitar-orientated music on the piano, she breathed new life into the songs, almost making them her own to the point that I couldn’t tell the difference between her own songs and the covers. As well as her piano playing, she had quite the voice on her. One that probably didn’t need a mic at any point, it was that powerful!
It’s not just the level of musicianship that impressed me, however. For someone so young, Josephine’s confidence on stage matches that of someone who has been performing for years! However, we are reminded of how young she still is when she discusses how she had just carried out her Higher Music performance exam, before playing one of her exam pieces, ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’, a song taken from the movie, Grease. She also expressed her disappointment when realising the invigilator didn’t turn up for the gig when she had invited him! The song ‘Ghost’ was also written during her time in school as a response to being asked to write an essay after a school trip in History class. (“I’m rubbish at writing essays so I wrote them a song instead”, she explained.)
The highlight of her set, however, was her interpretation of the Nina Simone classic, ‘Feeling Good’. I sensed the background chatter in the cafe, as well as from those browsing through The Greenhouse, instantly stop as Josephine hit that unforgettable chorus. Her voice echoed throughout the building, with the high notes turning all heads towards her. Now, I understand how such a gifted young musician ended up on our one’s to watch list; truly incredible!
In between Josephine’s sets, we were treated to a considerable slice of bluesy acoustic rock, courtesy of Leah Gourley. From Perthshire, Leah previously performed with blues/rock/psychedelic band, Twister, but is now performing as a duo, alongside guitarist Stewart Methven. It only took 5 songs to show what they were made of; Stewart’s bluesy guitar tones nicely complimenting Leah’s soulful voice. This was proper head swaying music, filled with a healthy amount of groove. An incredible sense of stage presence was also noted, with Leah really working the mic throughout the short set.
Out of the 5 songs performed by Leah Gourley, 4 were written by other artists, with the likes of Tony Joe White, John Lee Hooker and The Black Crowes all getting a nod. An excellent showcase of their bluesy rock influence, only ever so slightly let down by only one original song, a brilliant wee number called ‘Painted Faces’, being featured in the set. Had there been more original material, I would have described Leah’s set as faultless!
Both artists played fantastic sets this afternoon, with both delivering unique, contrasting performances. I most certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more of Josephine Sillars and Leah Gourley in the upcoming months…Belladrum, perhaps?
You can see more articles about Josephine Sillars here.