I went to see Amanda Shires on a whim, on an invitation from my friend Shannon, on the desire to see some live music in a small space. I figured she’d be good because Jason Isbell wouldn’t marry a bad musician, but she absolutely blew me away; her songwriting is arch and clever, a little bit dirty and a lot poignant, and she’s got a huge, funny, charming stage presence (especially for such a tiny person). She and her band had great rapport, and she’s a phenomenal musician on both the tenor guitar and the ukelele, but oh my god when she busted out the fiddle for the last song she played — holy crap, that woman can fiddle. None of her songs sounded like each other, but the writing is all tight as hell and sharp as tacks. Wonderful.
Hannah Elsie Chapman, the local open who Shannon booked, actually blew my mind even harder than Amanda — Hannah is 20, and she’s absolutely self-possessed and writing songs way, way older than her years. She’s got a voice like Kate Bush and she covered Warren Zevon, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I was not anywhere close to that talented or polished or smart as hell when I was 20. When I was 20, I was drinking my way across Central London and vomiting on national monuments. Hannah Chapman is on her way to being famous.
Full set is here.