The Foyer Sessions, an occasional series of gigs organised to raise funds for the ongoing restoration and renovation of the historic Leith Theatre, are staged in the theatre’s impressive, 1930s art-deco Crush Foyer. On 21st February, the headliner was Emme Woods, a Glasgow-based singer-songwriter whose distinctive sound has delicious flavours of 1960s rock ‘n roll, blues and soul and whose 10 inch vinyl EP, It’s Ma Party (released last summer), has created a whole lot of fan and media attention.
Quality support was provided by two other Scottish singer-songwriters…Zoe Graham, also based in Glasgow, who impressed with her beautifully crafted and multi-layered indie-pop, and Edinburgh-based Goodnight Louisa, who charmed us with her dark and dreamy electro-pop.
Emme Woods opened her set with a stunning solo performance of the darkly atmospheric Heavy Weather, built around a spiralling and tremolo-laden guitar riff and featuring a gritty and impassioned vocal. This bluesy classic recalled the glory of late 60s Fleetwood Mac, when Peter Green was in his prime. Woods’ five-piece band joined her for the rest of the set, allowing the more expansive song arrangements to shine through. I’ve Been Running switched seamlessly between the moody soul-pop of the verses to the joyous, ska-flavoured riffs and punchy horns in the choruses. Emme Woods whistled the intro to Mother Doesn’t Love You and then sashayed happily in time to the jangling guitar and delicious mariachi horns in this irresistible slice of retro pop.
With its cascading guitar lines, staccato riffs and graceful Beatles-esque horns, the dark and edgy Kill Yer Darlin was a real tour de force, topped off by Emme Woods’ pleading vocals in the towering choruses…”…hold me down, tie me up, trying hard to make you love me…” The bittersweet Lullaby For A Lost Soul was notable for shimmering guitar and the bruised beauty of Woods’ vocal. To close out her set, Woods treated us to the title song from her recent vinyl EP, It’s Ma Party, with its reverb guitar, bluesy riffs and scorching vocals on the taunting chorus…”it’s ma party, oh, you’re not invited, no…”
Striking a nice balance between brash and playful, Emme Woods is a charismatic performer, who engages warmly and directly with the audience. Her stunning vocals range from tenderly soulful to electrifying and they channel the spirit of some of the finest female rock, blues and soul singers of the 60s.
This gig showcased superbly the distinctive song-writing, vocal and guitar skills of Emme Woods. There is an abundance of talented artists in Scotland’s current music scene and Woods can rub shoulders with the best of them.