THE INTIMATE, almost exclusive setting of a house concert is the perfect venue to savour an up and coming artist of the calibre of Catherine Feeny.
Sitting within a few feet of the performer, you could hear every note played, and fully appreciate the level of vocal control involved. Feeny’s songs are often those of an exile, having spent years in chilly Norfolk looking out to sea. She is at her best when singing more downcast material, which particularly suited her low key, quietly devastating delivery sounding somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Billie Holiday and well demonstrated on No Reply from 2006’s Hurricane Glass.
Mercifully free of histrionics, much of her power comes from the hypnotic effect of her fingerpicking style, but more from the emotional weight attached to her lyrics with opening lines like “I've got the shitty beach town blues” from The Mighty Whale and Abraham hitting the listener squarely between the ears.
Feeny’s one well known song is Mr Blue, from her debut album, but in many respects this was the least interesting number played, by her standards merely conventional. Much of the rest was far less bland, and the most powerful also showcased her husband and producer Sebastian Rogers’ wonderful guitar playing. They looked a happy couple; she wearing the boots, him in socks, and the combined effect of voice and two guitars was stunning. There just wasn’t enough of this, and while the second half was enjoyably loose, it didn’t hang together as well as the magnificent outpouring at the start.