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Miscellaneous - Crooked Billet, Stoke Row, 22/2/2012

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 16 / 2 / 2012

Miscellaneous - Crooked Billet, Stoke Row, 22/2/2012


Nick Dent-Robinson watches award-winning folk artist Megan Henwood play a passionate and intimate set at the Crooked Billet at Stoke Row in Oxfordshire

It is unjust, but there's always been a risk of Megan Henwood being seen as twee, gentle and sweetly earnest.....a rather privileged middle-class newcomer to the pop-folk scene. True, Megan, now 24, is from affluent Henley-on-Thames. She also won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Artist Award, she plays acoustic guitar melodiously, does charity work the Britain and in Nepal and she is invited to appear at all the best folk festivals. Plus a 'Guardian' reviewer did once teasingly refer to Megan as the “Mother Theresa of Pop” because of the sheer niceness of a few of her lyrics – like “clouds resembling white marshmallows or clean and comfy, fluffy pillows”. But, as 'The Guardian' rightly went on to say, there is so much more to Megan Henwood than that. She's very grounded and a wry observer of life who has penned some searingly harsh lyrics. Having been mentored by the hugely talented singer-songwriter (and successful producer) Sam Brown, Megan has a good stage presence and, like Sam, she performs with passion, too - as was apparent the moment she took to the tiny stage at Stoke Row. The venue was celebrity chef (and former rock guitarist) Paul Clerehugh's Crooked Billet pub, hidden away at Stoke Row, deep in rural Oxfordshire and renowned for its wonderful food and music – always from fine musicians. This was a chance for Megan to demonstrate convincingly to a discriminating audience the wide range and depth of her ability. She has a confident and relaxed vocal style, but sings her highly personal, poignant, sometimes challenging, often witty lyrics powerfully. She takes big risks with her honesty and sometimes with her unfashionable cheerfulness. And she attacks some of her songs – like 'White Lies' and 'Happy Healthy Boy', a bleak true story of wrecked lives inspired by her younger Henley days, with venomous conviction. There are variations of light and shade throughout her performance with nicely unexpected changes of key and pace. And Megan's interpretation of Bobbie Gentry's 1967 classic 'Ode to Billie Joe' was compelling and original, reaffirming her clear commercial potential. An accomplished acoustic guitarist, Megan was supported throughout by proficient bass guitar from Pete Thomas. Several numbers also included impressive and imaginative accompaniment by her brother Joe Henwood on saxophone. This was a stunning performance and hugely appreciated by everyone in the packed pub on this dark, damp February night! Megan continues to build on the success of her widely acclaimed debut album, 'Making Waves'. She features regularly on BBC Radio 2 – including with Terry Wogan, Bob Harris, Janice Long, Simon Mayo and Mike Harding. Her new single 'Television' will be released soon and Megan is currently on a UK tour.

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