The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, The Spiegeltent, Sat 20 Feb
Whether the hometown crowd means that she knows she is among friends, or whether she is naturally comfortable on stage, the first thing that strikes you about Jo Lawry is her easy warm personality. She expresses surprise that anyone has come to see her, but after a sell-out performance in 2015 the Spiegeltent is packed once again!
The next thing you notice is the incredible voice, the one that has earned her international success as a backing singer for Sting. Her control and soaring range seem effortless.
Her extensive jazz credentials learned from the Elder Conservatorium and in New York are on full display in an astonishing version of Irving Berlin’s Remember. Lawry plays guitar, backed superbly by Will Vinson on piano (and soprano saxophone), Melbourne’s Chris Hale on acoustic bass, and Adelaide’s Ben Todd on drums.
Elsewhere the songs are her own. It is one thing to be a sought-after backing singer. It is another thing entirely to step forward and perform a set of your own original songs. Her songs demonstrate not only an advanced knowledge of musical structure, but also a melodic pop sensibility, and a gift for both clever and perceptive lyric writing.
There are songs from her recent album Taking Pictures, including I Said No, which she is delighted to announce will be covered by a Cappella group The Idea Of North. There are also a number of new songs, including So Far, So Good, a first anniversary gift to her husband Will Vinson. What could have been cloying or cheesy in lesser hands is a triumph of intelligent songwriting. It’s always exciting when an artist’s new material equals or exceeds what has gone before.
An excellent hour of music passes much too quickly and we can only hope she is back this way soon.