A Different Thread

Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review and Photos by Allan Wilkinson

Featuring the combined talents of Alicia Best and Robert Jackson, the Anglo/American duo collectively known as A Different Thread appeared tonight for the first time in Doncaster and for the first time at the Roots Music Club, delighting the audience with a selection of no less than twenty songs performed over the course of the evening. Having met whilst busking in Galway, the North Carolina-born singer songwriter, fiddle player and percussionist and Lichfield-based singer songwriter, guitar and harmonica player subsequently created and developed a rich repertoire of material, with songs they appear to have pulled from the ether; they just make it all sound so simple. The songs work well on record and work even better in an intimate live setting such as this, where the various nuances in both their singing and playing are further explored. Every single note played on Robert’s array of harmonicas are delicately rendered, even when utilizing the usually limiting rack, whilst every stroke of Alicia’s snare and vintage suitcase kick drum becomes a vital part of the arrangement. Sure, they make it sound easy, but I’m certain it isn’t. With a couple of EPs and a full length debut album already out there, the songs were there, ready to select, as the duo opened with “Rosa Rosa”, sounding like an updated version of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, going on to feature some of their very best material such as ‘Carolina Song’ and the utterly gorgeous “Potter’s Field”, for which the two singers gathered around one single microphone to give it an even stronger sense of intimacy. The most memorable stand-out number was “Carol’s Song”, a tender ballad written especially for a couple the duo met on their travels, as part of a Kickstarter campaign reward. Peppering their own self-penned material with one or two traditional songs such as “The Prickly Bush” and “Red is the Rose”, together with an a cappella “Long Black Veil”, the duo offered both variety and outstanding musicianship throughout the evening, all of which was received by a lively and engaging audience. Support was provided by club favourite Scarlett Kirwan, whose powerful voice was once again unleashed on the Roots Club audience, effectively rattling the Ukrainian Centre’s foundations in the process.