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Red Velvet’s launch of the EP “Darkness & the Angels” at the White Horse, Bedford 

Folk rock combo Red Velvet, led by vocalist Deirdre Murphy, launched their new EP Darkness and the Angels at The White Horse in Bedford on Saturday 23rd February 2019. 

 

Regulars at the White Horse will associate the venue with its intimate Monday night jazz sessions, which attract some of the best musicians in the country. No less talent was on display as the band fully exploited the intimacy and easy communication that the performance space affords.

 

Deirdre Murphy is blessed with a naturally lyrical Northern Irish brogue, which connects instantly with the audience. As she introduces each track in her soft contralto, she moves effortlessly from speech to song; Carrickfergusand The Rose lending themselves perfectly to her voice. As well as folk melodies, the band played other well chosen covers revealing their rockier side ‘ Chuck Berry’s ‘ Never Can Tell’ and Dr Feelgood’s  ‘Back in the Night’; Gene Thunderbolt distinguishes himself here by adding some very tasty blues piano licks and slide guitar to add spice. 

 

Centrepiece of the evening, literally, as it was the 2nd of three sets, was the performance of all 5 of the band’s tracks from their new EP. The band are unashamedly political and left leaning, however their politics don’t just cover macro events like Brexit, as in the sardonically ironic ‘That’ll never happen in real life’ and the social commentary of ‘After the War’ (which segues into a chorus of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’), they also deal with personal politics and affairs of the heart and soul. ‘Self-Storage’ belies its gently swinging 6/8 rhythm as it tells of the paraphernalia of a loved one’s life now left behind as part of a bittersweet legacy. The audience listens intently, turn that microphone up! Only those with a swinging brick for a heart were not moved by Deirdre Murphy’s vocal on ‘Ride of Darkness’ a song that deals with the grief at her brother’s illness and death from cancer. 

 

The band complete their 3rd set as the bell rings out for lasties. We’ve been taken through a range of emotions, some heart-wrenching, some heart-warming - time for that drink. 

 

Gerard Atkins

REVIEW of "Darkness & the Angels" – FOLKING.COM

 

Recently expanded from their Les Ray and Deirdre Murphy core to a five-piece and, in the process, a more folk-rock, bluesy sound, Cambridge’s RED VELVETlaunch the makeover with the self-released Darkness & The Angels EP, the title hinting at the struggles between the forces of negativity and positivity . Sung by Murphy, the anchor track, ‘Ride The Darkness’, with its carnivalesque waltzing melody, spooked piano and sparse guitar and bass backing, stems from 2011 when both she and her brother, Gerard, were diagnosed with cancer, he sadly succumbing in 2013.

It wasn’t the only tragedy to strike, Ray’s mother passing the same year as Deirdre’s brother, the sense of grief, loss and remembrance providing the lyrical bedrock for the fairground carousel-rhythm Self-Storage which, opening with church organ and sung by Les, tells of building up boxes of photos, diaries and other keepsakes that “tell of our loved ones, our lost ones, ourselves”.

Elsewhere, political notes are struck on ‘After The War’, a piano led reflection on post-WWII optimism with the election of Labour and the creation of the NHS, a period clearly held up in contrast to today’s state of the nation. Much musically heavier with its driving rhythm and snarly guitar, ‘The Fourth Freedom’, the title a reference to the EU’s Four Freedoms, is a heads-down grungy riff-driven number concerning the refugee crisis as a family sees the goods they helped manufacture able to move freely while they are denied permission to travel.

By musical contrast, opening and closing unaccompanied, ‘That’ll Never Happen’ is a jaunty, playful pub piano singalong number with Music Hall and Chas n Dave touches that, as the notes say, revisits a book, a play and a film all featuring unlikely events.

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