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Tamsin Elliott - Cafe #9, Sheffield, 11/6/2022

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 31 / 7 / 2022

Tamsin Elliott - Cafe #9, Sheffield, 11/6/2022


Tamsin Elliott released her debut solo album at the end of June. Nicky Crewe at the Café #9 in Sheffield discovers that her music is a spellbinding blend of her influences and her talents as a musician and composer.

Tamsin Elliott is currently touring with ‘Frey,’ her debut album. I had the pleasure of seeing her play live at Cafe #9 in Sheffield for the first date of the tour. It was a perfect combination of musicians, audience and venue. She was accompanied by Sid Goldsmith, who also plays on the album and has been part of her musical world for some time. The third member of the trio was supposed to be Rowan Elliott, her brother, who plays viola and fiddle on the album. Sadly due to injury he wasn’t able to join the tour, so a Sheffield based friend Rowan Piggott stood in for him. The trio sounded like they had been playing together forever and it was a surprise to learn that it was only a matter of days since Rowan Piggott had joined them. It was a wonderful evening of music, with introductions to the tunes that enhanced our enjoyment of them. They played ‘Frey’ and finished off with an encore of favourite traditional tunes. They had the perfect support from Sheffield based Lucy Huzzard and Hazel, who had brought an enthusiastic home crowd with them. Lucy writes songs in a folk idiom with topical and thought provoking lyrics, sometimes hilarious and at other times emotionally charged. Tamsin Elliott is a Bristol based composer, musician and filmmaker. She is also co-leader of the fusion project Solana, and those cross cultural musical influences are evident in her music. Formed in Valencia in 2012, Solana have toured and released three albums, bringing together world wide folk traditions, flamenco and contemporary jazz. The tunes on this first solo album were inspired by health issues and a long stay in hospital. Illness ironically gave her time to develop her own material. Ambient music played on headphones helped her through the disturbance and distraction of time spent on the ward. During the first lock down she was living in a shared house in Bristol, The Coop, with eight musicians and four hens, and that was also a creatively fruitful time. It seems that she has a talent for transforming difficult times into inspiration for beautiful music. Tamsin has written all the tracks and plays piano accordion, lever harp, flute, whistle, voice, synth and effects. On the album she is joined by old friend Sid Goldsmith (cittern, double bass, vocals, effects), brother Rowan Elliott (viola, fiddle, voice), Sheffield based Rowan Rheingans (fiddle, viola, voice), Ricardo de Noronha ( percussion) and Soufian Saihi (oud). There is sadness and yearning in these tunes, born out of the fatigue and loneliness of illness, but there’s also joy and enduring hopefulness. I’d assumed that the title, ‘Frey’ was a variation of the name of the goddess Freya, but it is actually the name of the surgical procedure she was due to have. It’s an elegant and soothing collection that takes us back and forth emotionally. ‘Lullaby’ with its delicate harp and vocals contrasts with the traditional jig sound of ‘Old Wax Jacket/A Coat of Sawdust’.‘Light as Bone’ has an Irish lilt. ‘Vignette I’ and ‘II’ are ambient improvisations, including soundscapes and field recordings from hospital. ‘The Loss Endured I’ and ‘II’ are melancholy and other worldly, bringing together Celtic and Arabic influences and highlighting the links between those traditions. ‘When The Times Darken’ is a Bertolt Brecht poem beautifully sung and set to music and is her response to deep concerns about climate change. Both ‘Lament’ and ‘Cold Moon’ have a mesmerising middle eastern quality. At the gig Tamsin told us the final track ‘Cygnus’ was inspired by a dream she had where she experienced the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan, in cosmic space and time. There is certainly a timeless quality to her music, with its mix of moods and influences, from Balkan to Middle Eastern, from Celtic and English traditional to contemporary soundscapes. It’s music that provides a space to relax, dream and meditate. A balm for the soul and a healing experience.

Also at Cafe 9, Sheffield

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Tamsin Elliott - Cafe #9, Sheffield, 11/6/2022

Tamsin Elliott - Cafe #9, Sheffield, 11/6/2022

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