Sharon King and the Reckless Angels

Live Review | The Wheelhouse, Wombwell | Review by Allan Wilkinson

With the Wheelhouse decked out in all manner of Halloween decorations including luminous skeletons, bat lights and something strange on each of the windows, it was reassuring to be protected from the impending darkness outside by three veritable angels, however reckless they may be.  Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Sharon King made her Wombwell debut tonight at the Wheelhouse, joined by Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin and Daisy Costello on cello, who together brought their own unique brand of transatlantic Scots-Americana to this decidedly warm and cosy summer house, just as the chills of winter approach us.  Sharon took up her familiar position centre stage, armed only with her small and handy acoustic guitar, flanked by her two angels, in order to perform songs from each of her three studio albums, 24 Hours, Quiddity and her most recent release Reckless Angels.  During an almost totally acoustic set, save for Sharon’s vocal mic and some slight enhancement on her guitar, the trio delivered a handful of self-penned songs, the bulk of which were from the current album, including the country influenced “Shiny Shoes”, the soulfully re-vamped “High Times” and the foot tapping “Cairn O Mohr”, a song with an Appalachian feel but about a deceitfully intoxicating local brew from north of the border.  The tempo-changing “Twinkle”, which contains the reference to the Reckless Angels within its lyric, coincidentally reflected the fireworks going on outside, mirroring all the flashing, banging and twinkling in the night sky above.  Tonight the song selections were interspersed with tales from Sharon’s particular neck of the woods, not least the stories from the beautiful Hebridean Isle of Eigg, a place Sharon is very much in tune with.  It wasn’t all familiar stuff though and the trio introduced one or two new as yet unrecorded or at least unreleased songs, both with a distinctive maritime feel, “Fisher King” and “Leviathan”.  Sharon also revisited her earlier album Quiddity performing both “Caroline” and “Wide Open” but with new instrumentation as neither Laura-Beth nor Daisy played on the original recordings, nor was Sharon able to play guitar due to an injury at the time.  Laura-Beth, also of all-female Scots band The Shee, was not only on hand to play some delicately gentle bluegrass mandolin, but also provided some beautiful harmony vocals along with cellist Daisy Costello, both of whom form part of the twenty-strong pool of musicians known in Sharon King circles as the Nevernever Cowboys.  With the perfectly complimentary instrumentation of guitar, cello and mandolin as well as three superbly aligned harmony vocals, there seemed little point in upping the tempo to get everyone in a party mood, choosing rather to keep everything pretty cool and mellow; everyone was pretty much in a mellow mood and therefore these delightfully mellow songs were given some delightfully mellow treatment.  Even the more rhythmic songs such as “Road to Siam” and the highly infectious reggae influenced “Lady Tuesday”, with Laura-Beth’s deliciously dexterous mandolin solo, maintained that distinctively mellow mood throughout.  With an encore of “24 Hours”, the title song from Sharon’s debut solo album, with its reference to the time it takes to get from Edinburgh to Melbourne, where the husband she was missing at the time was working (as Barry Humphreys said recently, that’s five Nicholas Cage movies – makes you want to get there sooner!), the trio left their mark on a suitably pleased Wheelhouse audience.