Rae Morris / Stefan Melbourne
London, Slaughtered Lamb
Wednesday 7th March 2012
It’s very rare that you hear a voice that stops you in your tracks.
Rae Morris first came to my attention with a performance with award-winning composer Joe Duddell backed with the Halle Orchestra, and the sold-out sign at the Slaughtered Lamb showed that others had been equally enraptured by the voice and intrigued to see her in the flesh on her first headline tour.
Opening the show was Stefan Melbourne, who’s building up a reputation in Manchester where’s he’s based, as a songwriter whose work taps into raw emotions, drawing influences from the likes of Stephen Fretwell as well as American bluegrass.
His set features five songs, including two, How Long Is Always and Place To Hide, which are available to download free on his website, and he starts with a song he’s playing for the first time. Whilst his influences are clear, his engaging personality, confessional honest lyrics and distinctive voice ensure he’s not another addition to the overflowing pool of male singer-songwriters. The backing vocals, from Chloe Leavers , an excellent singer-songwriter in her own right, add shade and depth in equal measures and the guitars provide the perfect framework for the interaction of the two vocalists. He’s certainly a name to keep an eye out for.
And so on to Rae. She plays keyboards on all tracks and doesn’t have any other musicians on stage with her. From the minute she starts singing to the last note of the encore, the crowd are absolutely captivated. Between songs, she’s almost embarrassed at the response she’s getting, thanking the crowd at every opportunity with a shy nervous giggle and you feel that she doesn’t appreciate just how incredible her voice is.
More than that, she is already developing a stage persona, showing a sense of humour at her own lack of in between song banter and awkwardness at plugging free downloads on her website, all of this in a broad Lancashire accent you wouldn’t normally associate with such a powerful singing voice.
There’s a sense of genuine shock that such a fragile looking teenager can possess such power, range and variety, everything that female singers who have sold millions of records have. In a venue that’s traditionally marred by chatterers at the back, you can hear a pin drop when she’s not singing.
Coupled with the voice are a set of nine songs that work perfectly with just keyboards and which demonstrate a worldly-wiseness beyond her years. As well as internet favourites Walls, Oldest Of New and Day One, there’s a couple of new songs, introduced for this tour as she’s headlining for the first time and playing longer set, which show that she’s still developing as a songwriter.
Where you can often categorise female solo singers and compare them to their peers, there isn’t a real relevant comparison that’s valid here for Rae. She’s a unique, very special talent. Whilst that doesn’t guarantee anything in the music business and record sales are no longer a barometer of quality, she should sell thousands and thousands of records when she gets to finally release these songs.
Don’t forget her name, go and get the two free songs from her website and if you’re going to the Noah And The Whale and Bombay Bicycle Club on tours in April and May, make sure you go and catch her opening for them.