Posts Tagged With: Liv Austen

Gig Review: Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

Just when I thought I’d stopped writing articles on 4000 Miles to Nashville, something happens to pull me back in. That something was the album launch of Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, a year in the making for one of the most popular acts in UK Country; Dexeter. Not only was it a chance to see the culmination of a lot of a hard work from a band I’ve come to know pretty well, but they were being supported by Liv Austen, someone I’d long been wanting to see live. So off I trotted to the Camden Barfly, on a very hot July 3rd Friday evening. Apologies for the awful photos – turns out my new phone isn’t the image creating powerhouse I was led to believe.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

First to perform was Liv, whose EP Working Man’s Dream bowled me over back in January and I’ve listened to it many times since. A change in plans meant I missed her performance at Country To Country, so here was chance to finally make up for that, and I made sure to be near the stage. Liv started with Working Man’s Dream and it was obvious straight away that what I’d heard on her CD was not a trick of clever production, but a truly amazing voice that I was witnessing before my very eyes, and ears.

With effortless grace her vocals were as equally powerful as they were tender, as she sung through a varied set of both upbeat songs and ballads. What made Liv stand out from a lot of UK acts, and indeed many around the world, is her storytelling. In between songs we got an insight into who Liv is and why she wrote the songs she was playing. She spoke with confidence, but also with an air of vulnerability and is every bit the country singer song writer that you hope to see at a live show.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

New to Liv was playing the guitar, something she did in one of her new songs. There was a point towards the end of the song where her guitarist Lee stopped, and looked across at Liv playing and signing on her own. As she did both faultlessly, I saw a look of pride on his face – job done. When I reviewed Liv’s EP I said of The Guts You Always Had, and I quote This is one of the song’s where I visualise (if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know the visualisation is a big part of music for me) Liv sitting at the piano with a spotlight picking her out on an otherwise dark stage. Much to my delight I got this at the end of her set, and I got goosebumps. Okay, the stage wasn’t in full darkness, but everything else was there and the performance was stunning.

I had an inkling from listening to her EP, but after seeing Liv Austen live I firmly believe she’s the best female country singer in the UK right now, and has very tool at her disposal to go a very long way. Chatting to her later in the evening it was great to see that’s she’s as charming and endearing off the stage as she is on. She also has no idea just what a special talent she is, and I say that without even the slightest hint of hyperbole. She’s back in London with Luke & Mel and Gary Quinn for a Think Country In The Round session on August 13th – I think I’ll have to make the trip into the big smoke for that one. There’s also a new EP coming later this year and hopefully a launch party there – count me in.

Next up was Lucy May who’d I’d seen supporting Striking Matches back in May and she’s not for me, so instead I caught up with luminaries of the UK country music scene at the back of the venue.

Then it was time for the main event and the band of the moment, as Dexeter took to the stage and my first time seeing this version of them, with new session guitarist Craig. They kicked things off with Breathe, which also hapens to be the first track on new album Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, and it was clear straight away it was party time as the band sounded bigger and better than they have to date. They’ve definitely upped the rock part of their act and for me that’s a good thing, and actually fills a gap in UK Country.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

One big difference was Paul on bass, yes that’s bass, not the usual double bass that we are used to seeing him strumming. This left him free to have a lot more fun stage, and he took advantage of that. Who knew that behind the coolest hat wearing dude in country music was an axe wielding rockstar? Well we do now, and what a difference it makes. You see, Dexeter have been through a few member changes over the past 12 months, but now they seem to have their strongest line-up by far, with everyone contributing something original and necessary to the sound. Jim on drums is often overlooked as all drummers are, but his contribution is unmistakable, as was new member Craig who played both guitar and piano.

It almost goes without saying that at a Dexeter gig Dee will sing and she’ll sound great, but it still needs saying and I never fail to be surprised at just how good she is, in spite of seeing Dexeter perform live many times before. Along with her scintillating vocals is her chemistry with writer and guitarist Gareth, who together sometimes perform as a duo. When halfway through the gig we heard from manager Annette that the album had cracked the iTunes Top 40, huge smiles emerged and they hugged on stage. It was an in the moment honest reaction, and there’s nothing more country than that. As I write this Four Thousands Miles to Nashville is on the verge of cracking the country top 10 – with eyes on that number one spot. Garth himself has a cheeky charm that makes it impossible not to like him in an instant, as he masters his guitar and adds vocals that harmonise with Dee so very well.

I have to admit, it was quite surreal to hear them singing Four Thousand Miles to Nashville, a song (and album) whose name’s beginnings came from this very website. It sounded great though, and those 4000 miles will be traveled later this year as the band will be making a very special trip to the home of country music. The new songs from the album blended perfectly with old stalwarts like Grey, one of my personal favourites and one I heard at the very first Dexeter gig I attended in May last year. Slow It Down was a massive crowd favourite after being around for almost a year, as we all sang along to what has become the band’s anthem.

Dexeter Four Thousand Miles to Nashville Album Launch with Liv Austen

Later in the gig there was here was an announcement that Dexeter are supporting Angaleena Presley at her London gig on July 30th – lucky for me I already have tickets. A little after this they were joined on stage by Laura Oakes for a great rendition of Hey Ho, a song made famous by The Lumineers and later Maddie and Daphne on the Nashville television show. This was my first experience of Laura, someone I’ve heard touted by many within the UK country community, and rightly so. She was back again for the second song of the encore, as were Liv Austen and Lucy May as they all joined Dexeter to sing Country Roads, which brought the house down and finished off great set in style.

It’s quite incredible to think that Country to Country 2014 was their second only gig as a band, and just how far they’ve come in that time. The new album has delivered everything we hoped for and more, and as a live band they have only stretched the gap between themselves and every other band to hold on to their title as the best live band in UK country music.

Well done to the aforementioned Annette from Think Country who put all this together and what a great job she did. It was this, and Liv earlier in the night, that has me once again writing on this website. When I see or hear something great I just want to tell the world, that’s all I ever wanted to do with 4000 Miles to Nashville. Last night epitomised what I like in live music – may there be many more nights like it.

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Dexeter – A Year On for One of UK Country’s Finest and The Album Launch Party

Friday July 3rd 2015 – mark that date in your diary, as that’s the day the long awaited Four Thousand Miles to Nashville launch party takes place. With support from Lucy May and Liv Austen, Dexeter will take over The Barfly Camden and tickets can be bought here. Anyone who has seen Dexeter live, or heard of their legend, will know that this is a show not be missed. Remember, this is the band that got such a crowd of people at Country To Country 2015 that the entrance to The O2 was blocked!

Dexeter Album Launch Party

It’s been quite a 12 month period for Dexeter, who turned up at Country To Country 2014 with little fanfare and almost no public awareness. It was on the Sunday that I got a tweet asking where I was, and on meeting up I met the band the for the very first time, and was given a copy of their first album/EP, Brighter Skies. A couple of months later, after being suitably impressed with their music, I went to Rockingham Racecourse to see them perform live. That was the turning point and since then I’ve been a big fan and got to know the band quite well. Do not fear, my friendship does and will not interfere with my objectivity, and any reviews of their music or performances are and will never be positively biased in any way. That would make a mockery of both myself and the band.

Disclaimers aside, as 2014 rolled on more opportunities opened up for Dexeter, as they performed at big festivals such as Yee Haw and Fort San Antone Fest, while supporting 2 UK country juggernauts The Shires and Ward Thomas on their first co-headline tour. Tales of their great gigs and music began to make waves online and their fan base grew exponentially, as they became the unofficial people’s band of UK country music.

They kicked off 2015 with an afternoon slot at Midwinterfest in Devon, before driving back to London to perform at Hannah Jane Lewis’ EP launch at The Borderline. In this time they also launched a Pledge Music crowd sourcing campaign for their second album, which was funded in under 4 days. You can pre-order the album here, which has the marvellous title Four Thousand Miles to Nashville – probably an homage to some literary genius admired by millions 😉

Dexeter Performing at Country To Country 2015

It was also in 2015 they took on the management services of Annette over at Think Country, and have gigs lined up with the likes of Honey Rider, Sasha McVeigh and Sonia Leigh, Paul Carella and a return to the Fort San Antone Fest in October. I caught up with principle songwriter and guitar guru Gareth after their gig at Country 2 Country, and asked him about the experience:

So C2C2015… What an incredible experience! We actually arrived at the O2 a little later than the previous day, found some breakfast and pondered the day ahead. We had noticed a little movement around Twitter so we were expecting maybe 30 or 40 people to meander past us and see what was going on. We sat in the town square for about two hours and were really beginning to worry about it.

After some strong coffee we gathered our thoughts and our belongings and headed backstage to collect our instruments and warm up – Dee was terrified she had forgotten every single lyric. We hustled through the crowd to the stage to see most of Emma Jane’s incredible set – her performance set the bar really high. When she finished we began to set up and noticed people drifting towards the Big Entrance stage, so staring only at the floor we began our first song. As we hit the last chord of Something Gold the entire atrium exploded. We looked around and just saw faces everywhere. Everyone was smiling and cheering. We couldn’t believe it.

Halfway through the set, the stage manager asked us to move everyone forward to create more room at the back – it was unbelievably humbling and overwhelming, wonderful and frightening all at the same time. By the end of the set, we were deliriously happy. The crowd had been so supportive and LOUD! We came off stage and were whisked straight off to the signing area to find a queue there! We just couldn’t take it all in.

We did a few interviews and about half hour later Deeanne and I found a quiet place between the two stages. We just hugged and the last hour had been so overwhelming we cried! We were so grateful to be part of such an incredible weekend, a really special moment in UK music. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’d be surprised if the album launch party at The Barfly Camden doesn’t sell out very quickly, and especially with such great support. I’ve been a big fan of Liv’s music for some time now and her EP Working Man’s Dream is still played regularly. I don’t know much about Lucy May but have heard enough good things to know that she is a great addition to an already great line up. I’ll see you there.

Dexeter Tickets

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EP Review: Liv Austen – Workin’ Man’s Dream

EP Review: Liv Austen - Workin' Man's Dream Liv Austen is yet another example how powerful a music discovery tool Twitter is these days, as we crossed paths on there last year, and I was immediately drawn to her voice, and piano playing. This debut EP from Liv actually came out late last year, but with Christmas and man flu (what, no sympathy?) I’m only now getting round to giving it the attention it so richly deserves.

The first track, Rain On My Side, opens with some unmistakably country stings, before Liv’s voice joins them. It’s almost instantly that you hear these vocals that have such wonderfully smooth tone and clarity, and wonder why you haven’t heard them before. It’s great to hear a song that extols the virtues of rain and storms, as they are both things I love to sit inside and watch, and listen to. The metaphor of rain washing away the lonely feeling works well too, away from my literal interpretation!

Breathe Out starts a bit rockier, thank to the guitar intro. The song softens with Liv’s vocals, but then builds nicely to the chorus. It’s a song that has Liv assuring us that she’s fine on her own, but she later declares there is nobody out there for her, and the confidence turns to vulnerability. Even when taking it up a gear, Liv’s voice never falters, and retains that creamy resonance throughout.

I’m almost certain that The Guts You Always Had is the song I heard last year, as the tip toeing piano feels very familiar. That’s Liv on Piano in case you were wondering, because as well as a singer and an actress, she’s a pianist too. This is one of the song’s where I visualise (if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know the visualisation is a big part of music for me) Liv sitting at the piano with a spotlight picking her out on an otherwise dark stage. This is the one, while not taking anything away from the other songs, that takes Liv to the next level, and is a gorgeous song, both in the sound and the lyrics. It tells the tale of her relationship with her sister and the contrasting traits they possess. There are times when the song makes me question whether both sisters are still with us, but it works just as well either way.

The EP ends finishes the title track Working Man’s Dream, which could be just as much at home in a honky tonk bar in the southern states of America as it is in Liv’s hometown of London. It’s an incredibly catchy song talking of the desire to succeed as a singer, which ends with a back to reality slowing of the tempo and stripped down vocal. It’s as if the end of the song is Liv waking up from her own dream. It’s an incredibly radio friendly and upbeat song that would give Liv the opportunity to have a lot fun performing live.

It’s an EP of such high quality that I do think Liv Austen is a name that deserves to be known by a lot more people, and coincidentally she was announced to be performing at Country To Country 2015 on one of the pop up stages just today. You can catch her in the Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday 7th April at 4pm, and based on the evidence of this EP, I urge you to do just that. In just 4 songs, Liv shows incredible versatility in her voice and style and is obviously a very talented singer / songwriter, appealing to both fans of modern and traditional country music.

Get Working Man’s Dream on iTunes and follow Liv on Twitter and Facebook.

Categories: EP Reviews, Music Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

EP Review: Liv Austen – Workin’ Man’s Dream

EP Review: Liv Austen - Workin' Man's Dream

EP Review: Liv Austen – Workin’ Man’s Dream

Liv Austen is yet another example how powerful a music discovery tool Twitter is these days, as we crossed paths on there last year, and I was immediately drawn to her voice, and piano playing. This debut EP from Liv actually came out late last year, but with Christmas and man flu (what, no sympathy?) I’m only now getting round to giving it the attention it so richly deserves.

The first track, Rain On My Side, opens with some unmistakably country stings, before Liv’s voice joins them. It’s almost instantly that you hear these vocals that have such wonderfully smooth tone and clarity, and wonder why you haven’t heard them before. It’s great to hear a song that extols the virtues of rain and storms, as they are both things I love to sit inside and watch, and listen to. The metaphor of rain washing away the lonely feeling works well too, away from my literal interpretation!

Breathe Out starts a bit rockier, thank to the guitar intro. The song softens with Liv’s vocals, but then builds nicely to the chorus. It’s a song that has Liv assuring us that she’s fine on her own, but she later declares there is nobody out there for her, and the confidence turns to vulnerability. Even when taking it up a gear, Liv’s voice never falters, and retains that creamy resonance throughout.

I’m almost certain that The Guts You Always Had is the song I heard last year, as the tip toeing piano feels very familiar. That’s Liv on Piano in case you were wondering, because as well as a singer and an actress, she’s a pianist too. This is one of the song’s where I visualise (if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know the visualisation is a big part of music for me) Liv sitting at the piano with a spotlight picking her out on an otherwise dark stage. This is the one, while not taking anything away from the other songs, that takes Liv to the next level, and is a gorgeous song, both in the sound and the lyrics. It tells the tale of her relationship with her sister and the contrasting traits they possess. There are times when the song makes me question whether both sisters are still with us, but it works just as well either way.

The EP ends finishes the title track Working Man’s Dream, which could be just as much at home in a honky tonk bar in the southern states of America as it is in Liv’s hometown of London. It’s an incredibly catchy song talking of the desire to succeed as a singer, which ends with a back to reality slowing of the tempo and stripped down vocal. It’s as if the end of the song is Liv waking up from her own dream. It’s an incredibly radio friendly and upbeat song that would give Liv the opportunity to have a lot fun performing live.

It’s an EP of such high quality that I do think Liv Austen is a name that deserves to be known by a lot more people, and coincidentally she was announced to be performing at Country To Country 2015 on one of the pop up stages just today. You can catch her in the Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday 7th April at 4pm, and based on the evidence of this EP, I urge you to do just that. In just 4 songs, Liv shows incredible versatility on her voice and style and is obviously a very talented singer / songwriter, appealing to both fans of modern and traditional country music.

Get Working Man’s Dream on iTunes and follow Liv on Twitter and Facebook.

Categories: EP Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

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