A rising star in Manchester and beyond: Janileigh Cohen

Photo credit to Andy DArbyshire

Folk music wisdom flows through the surprisingly young Janileigh Cohen, a 24 year old singer-songwriter from Bolton. She lets her music do the talking in an age too-often preoccupied by image – and she stands out. With a voice which enters the heights of emotion and unwraps it for all to hear – her level of perspective is stunning.

Whole, hot vocals with her hand-picked acoustics bring reminders of Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell, but she is certainly an artist in her own right. To express sensations through sound and wisdom through words is one of those rare arts she has mastered early.

‘Situations we can relate to’
There’s an intimacy to it, as she speaks of personal situations we can relate to, but perhaps rarely speak of. Like the lines from the title track of her EP ‘As A Child’ – ‘And I was left in this cold house/as a child’, she talks of the chills of personal isolation yet with a warm folk sound.

Music can allow us to reassess the heartaches of our past even if we can’t resolve them, the tracks seem to say; it certainly isn’t a case of style without substance. It actually feels like a privilege to listen in – an unabashed reflection of emotion in an often impersonal world.

‘Personal interaction with her music’
For ‘listening in’ is what it’s all about – and brilliant refreshing – as even though Janileigh is online, what makes her stand out even more is her encouragement of public, personal interaction with her music. Bringing busking back as a way to showcase art, she’s played to the streets of Manchester, Bolton – and taking her guitar and wisdom further afield, even Geneva recently!

She’s also played live in many venues, particularly across Manchester, emphasizing the city’s stature as a place of exciting homemade music on many levels right now. Her personal journey across audiences is reflected in the theme of travel taken by her lyrics, like ‘I’ll forever search for life, in the darkness of my nights’.

‘Embracing instruments for the intensity’
Most recently, Janileigh launched her EP ‘As A Child’ at the Three Minute Theatre; the iconic Afflecks Palace location, with Papillion Promotions. The 21s May summarised the homemade, wholesome movement happening in folk music in Manchester right now. Not only did Janileigh provide a powerful performance, but was supported by a number of other local pioneers. Caoilfhionn Rose treated listeners to her singer-songwriting skill, whilst Rebekah Joy drew out her acoustic vibes to get the crowds going.

It was a night of exploring sound and embracing instruments for the intensity they are capable of creating. An ideal complement to this was a third supporting act in the form of Café Misfits, fronted by Colin Cunningham. There was a communal rather than competitive feel which shows that friendliness can be a productive part of folk; and people entered the night as so much more than an EP launch.

‘Familiar symbols… opened up in creative ways’
After all, the EP itself explores issues and symbols with wide-scale significance – so the audience is invited to apply their own

Photo credit to Andy DArbyshire perspective, enriched by Janileigh’s sound. Whilst in ‘As A Child; she draws on the familiar concepts of home and parents . Track titles such as ‘Search for Light’ and ‘Old Friend’ see familiar symbols again; but opened up in creative ways. Her voice has a coarseness at the corners, conjuring up the modern experience of melancholy in insightful ways, like the poignant lines ‘I turn to the dark/to hide the sorrow in my eyes’. This is from the track ‘Same Old Road’, and creates imagery out of emotion; something which can be cathartic to the listener.

The launch is also significant as it shows her growing musical confidence, not just soft acoustics – but now spiralling violins, adding to the depth, as we hear in ‘Search For Light’. The sadness and spiralling emotion she explores isn’t just innocent, there are also suggestions of subversion: ‘go dance with the devil, I’ve done it many times’, keeps us curious, captivated.


‘The captivation continues…’


And from an artist who is only 24 years of age, the captivation continues. Listen for yourself on her Bandcamp and access the EP now. It’s folk music you don’t just listen to, but feel.

All words by Emily Oldfield, who you can find on Twitter as @EmilyvOldfield and visit her website.

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