La Bohème, Thu Feb 19
Sounds Like A Story is a fledgling collaborative project for local songwriters John Bienvenue and Sophia McRae, the show title being the name of one of John’s songs. There are two original instrumentals Bella and Quirky Rag and the rest of the program contains songs penned and sung by either John or Sophia.
And it’s a slightly odd combination. John’s songs are folksy tales full of wisdom and jazzy chord progressions. There are some real highlights such as the beautiful Tomorrow’s Song but in this intimate setting his guitar playing and singing is somewhat overpowered by Sophia’s clarinet accompaniment, more suited to a larger venue. These are songs that would benefit from a more stripped-back approach.
Sophia’s songs are more up-tempo, which does supply some variety to the event, but they are almost too different from John’s to be comfortable stable mates. Songs about digging in the garden, with all cool musical puns intended, make these the kind of jazz frippery suited to a late night bar, but would not reward too much critical listening. Again there are no spaces. Every bar not filled with voice is filled with clarinet, which must be exhausting.
Sophia hinted that they would like to progress the project with additional players, and this could be a good option. Just as long as everyone allows room for these songs to breathe.