LIVE REVIEW: Sophie Hutchings @ Raval, Sydney 28/10/10

written by Chris Familton

Tired Hands had the task of easing the punters back into their comfy high-backed armchairs at the intimate Raval, a venue that feels like you are in the lounge of a strangers house or at a wedding where you only know the groom. Tired Hands is a man, his guitar and a quavering, rich voice. Though the tempo of his songs barely rose above a heartbeat he had the room silently attentive while spinning his tales that were firmly grounded in the minimal melancholy of people like Jason Molina.

All three acts reside on the Preservation label with Seaworthy being the more established of the trio. Incorporating field recordings from the NSW South Coast and mixing them with live, looped and effects-driven guitars the duo created some magical transportive soundscapes. This was music best experienced with eyes closed to avoid distractions from around the room and those whose attention drifted away from what was happening onstage missed out on some mesmerising sonic ebb and flow.

Sophie Hutchings has been around the Sydney music scene for a while now, primarily as part of brother Jamie Hutchings’ bands (Bluebottle Kiss and solo). Now finally she has gone out on her own and with some critical acclaim for her debut Becalmed preceding her she celebrated the release of that album in fine style.

Hutchings wisely chose to use a number of guests to flesh out her solo piano pieces – in particular brothers Jamie and Scott accompanied on drums and cellist Peter Hollo added some great classical texture. Though their contributions added colour and shape to the music it was Hutchings herself who quite deservedly proved to be the star of the show. Her piano playing style is a curious mix of percussive rhythms and delicate phrasings allowing her to let single notes hang in the air and then build flurries of notes into rushes of melody. Chris Abrahams of The Necks came to mind but his playing is more improvised and free spirited. Hutchings has carefully created and nurtured her compositions yet thankfully they don’t feel tethered or rigid in their construction or execution.

Credit must go to Preservation for curating such a dynamic collection of artists that covered both traditional song and experimental composition with all involved possessing strong emotional resonance.

this review first appeared in Drum Media



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