Olivia Chaney at the Stoller Hall, Manchester, 26th March 2019

Three years after the debut of her first solo album The Longest River on Nonesuch Records, Olivia Chaney has released Shelter which has been reviewed in The Observer as a ‘finely wrought piece of work’. Other excellent reviews have followed so there was a clear sense of anticipation prior to her return to Manchester (she studied in the city previously) and to the Stoller Hall in late March.

Her music combines the traditional folk with a strong essence of blues and contemporary songwriting.

Performing with Jordan Hunt, her regular collaborator, she presented a diverse mix of original work and cover versions, subtly building the melodies on many of the songs. Each note rings clearly in the venue. The songs, fabulously original or great covers such as Kate Bush’s Army Dreamers, allowed the listener to create their own images and stories as the concert progressed.

During the first half, Dragonfly and Imperfections in particular were transfixing, moving the audience out of the plain four walls of the venue and into carefully constructed settings. You could almost see her mother’s old silk dresses hanging in a wardrobe, you were sitting next to her on the plane to New York, tasting the salt-beef bagel.

Chaney’s music deserves attention and whilst it would ideally suit a much smaller venue where the already present sense of intimacy would be amplified further still and allow her precise, unrushed delivery to own the space would be perfect, she held the appreciative audience in the hall tonight with her lyrics and musicianship. Highly recommended.

Olivia Chaney’s tour continues into the summer.
For further details please visit: www.oliviachaney.com/tour

A short piece influenced by the music and performance of Olivia Chaney

Only Another Short Stay

She cuts a winding path that runs a mile from home,
Singing, each word pure, to take your mind off the distance
Between you both that has increased with chosen absence.
Hers is a voice first heard emanating from an East Side bar
On a timeless-dark night. Later over coffee, over whiskey,
Then in exchanged letters written not so far from here.
That very night, every chord on the piano holds its place,
Undressing you by candlelight but also letting you go.

A minimal sound by the turning of a neon-lit corner:
A cobalt blue pulsing a long groove towards Brooklyn.
Another song. The North York Moors set out at dusk, ahead
A ramshackle cottage – no running water, no electricity.
Simply a strangely vulnerable voice and her tender harmonies
Laid down against a bitter frost of the past.
Now, the rhythm is inviting you to trust once again.
She says: “I am not going to try and explain myself.”

Left between words, you decide what each verse is about.
Subtle, less as more accompaniment from nature;
The forgiving ripple of a stream, the cry of a plover.
Violin and harmonium as heard on a portable Bush radio:
Ethereal, not quite tuned on a drowning March night.
You recall those captivating, untroubled echoes
From a May-day fayre as mother and child
Sit eating toffee-apples, waiting for the show to begin.

Up at the church, amid the overwhelming aroma of incense,
She looks forgivingly: “You have to say you’re asking.”
So easy to let the current contentment allow you hope,
Only there is another forsaking melody still to be played,
Another reel of this black and white film to watch.
Beforehand you wander inside, find her a drink. Hope.
Later under a harvest moon, a couple almost together again
Walk the beautifully haunting distance down a cobbled lane.

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