Lauren Housley at Sebright Arms
Lauren Housley is overdue on stage for her first-ever London gig at the Sebright Arms, but it’s ok because she’s at the door, selling tickets and welcoming the latecomers with a bright smile. Originally from Rotherham in South Yorkshire but now based in Manchester, Housley exudes northern charm, and it seems as though her family are all in the house tonight to help celebrate the launch of her debut album Sweet Surrender.
The small stage is crammed full with her six-piece backing band, who are mostly called Chris, sporting long hair and radiating a distinctly corduroy vibe. Not that this counts against them, as they get off to a pleasant stroll-paced start with Nice to See Ya, the first track off Housley’s album and a thankfully Brucie-free zone. The opener has a midwestern feel to it, which morphs into a more soulful sound as they play The Waiting Game and move through further tracks from the album, most of which are of a similar country-blues ilk. The band are tight and Housley’s voice is faultless with power and softness, so what might be lacking in variety is made up for in talent. Radio 2-demographic faces around the room are spread with smiles and Housley in particular seems absolutely chuffed to be here.
The set enters an ambitious covers segment, with a slowed-down version of Jolene that lacks Dolly’s empowerment: while Parton is bargaining to win the situation, Housley’s plea seems to think the battle is already lost. An Eric Clapton-esque guitar solo picks the crowd up, before they launch into Paul Simon’s Graceland, a track that some might consider too sacred to be covered. But they make a sonically pleasing job of it and are well received, moving on into a more funk-inspired phase of the set.
With a repeat of the opening track accompanied by an anecdote about her nan, and then a couple more tracks and a plug for upcoming participation in the Blues Festival, the last few tracks of the set feel unplanned and a bit messy, but the audience gets a real sense of the band’s reluctance to leave the stage. Very likeable and full of talent, Lauren Housley just needs to add some slickness to her production to elevate it from “nice evening” to “remarkable event.”
Photos: Matthew Pull
For further information about Lauren Housley and future events visit here.
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