Sam Pickett is a master of the deeply romantic and passionate torch song, but without the nauseating mawk. At times the trembling beauty of his songs reach unassailable highs- and at these times the pain gnaws deep into the heartstrings like a stiletto. As each song unfurls, the listener feels more-and-more as if he or she is sliding towards an evermore gaping precipice – from which the only salvation is to fall into the depth of his kindness, and higher rebirth. Such is the emotional intensity. But this sentimentality is without pain. That’s because Sam laces his work with a dark fondant humour and a generous twinkle in his eye. The humour helps you to stay on the upside of tragedy and the mellow side of drama. Yep, Sam is the kinda guy who has six sugars in his morning cap, treacle on his toast and sugar on his sugar puffs – and sings the kind of songs that are even sweeter, but there is a good balance between darkness and light, between humour and the moribund and between optimism and unrequited love. Songs like ‘Moonlit Soul’ or ‘Siren’ are sensuous and painful at times, but you never feel choked with depression and guilt, but instead you are lifted higher than you ever expected, and onto a sojourn towards an esoteric plane within his sadly painted world – full of red-rose petals and spikes of anguish. Adding depth and warmth to the performance of troubadour Sam was a guest appearance by Lily D’cruz with her epic and eloquent cover of the Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic) and Beyoncé number “Halo.” Truly unforgettable.
Something completely different, Weybridge based punk and rap folker Suicide Si is less formal, more rambunctious and his songs were laden with profane observations and introspective commentary. Imagine the mutant offspring of Johnny Cash and Eminem to get the idea. Fast-paced and choc-a-bloc with allusion and reference, the work was as characteristic as it was playful and as consistently creative as imagination allows. He looks like a gingery-blonde rasta on a guitar stool, his pallid hypnotic eyes swirl around the Hob stage like plates on a stick, as he shoots through his gig as if he was performing a commando raid on your sensibilities. Non stop, fast as lightning, take-no-prisoners, by the numbers, action-packed folk for the hardcore punk generation. Songs like ‘No Sense’ and ‘Skizm’ were heartfelt and sincere, but were also touched with lightly ironic dabs of humour and tell-tale streetwise insights, and so were the perfect antidote to the ‘old style’ traditional one-man-and-his-guitar folksy protest songs. Si incorporates ska punk with a dashing flair and mastery into his solo act- in a way, I guarantee, that you have never witnessed before.