By Connie Ward-Allen
A full auditorium had come down to see the launch of local, Katie Spencer’s album ‘Weather Beaten’ in her hometown of Hull at the university venue. David Ward Maclean and Alastair Hamilton supported the launch, playing an effortless set of country-inspired music, mostly originals with a couple of covers including Carole King’s ‘You’ve got a friend’. Maclean’s thick Scottish speaking voice was fooling no-one when it came to his American-style singing with an impressive top range, complementing Hamilton’s acoustic bass playing and Maclean’s own intricate guitar.
After a short break, Spencer Cozens, keyboard player for John Martyn and producer of the album, returns to the stage to introduce the main act. The minimal stage – a few guitars, a microphone and a double bass sitting in front of a projection of rolling waves collapsing at the shore, is joined by Katie Spencer and her guitar along with the double bass player, Andy Tytherleigh. Like Maclean, Spencer has a great sense of humour and relationship with the audience:
“I finally got into uni! See mum and dad, I did it!”
She manages to engage the audience fully throughout her set and the John Martyn influences are strong. Her guitar playing is effortless, full of turns and ornaments and harmonics and her voice is deep and slightly raspy – full of emotion. She plays through the whole album and more. Some tracks from her 2017 EP ‘Good morning sky’ and some covers. In fact, her cover of Martyn’s ‘Spencer the rover’ actually made it onto the album. It’s not hard to see that Spencer looked up to Martyn as a musician, but there are elements of Florence Welch in the vocals, Newton Faulkner in the guitar playing and Laura Marling in the feel of the music.
While predominantly guitar and double bass, the concert featured a clarinet on songs like the title track Weather Beaten and the last song before the encore, in which an electric guitar also made an appearance. The show builds up to this climax of atmospheric, ethereal-sounding music that evoking imagery and memories of the ocean.
I came away having witnessed a night of fantastic music, a new CD and feeling very cathartic. It’s exciting to see someone put so much of a place and a people into their music. The North East of England, Spencer’s home, has obviously influenced her music in a way that can create a nostalgia of a place even for the newest of inhabitants. Spencer’s songwriting skills and musicianship have a lasting, emotional effect on the listener. This is progressive folk at it’s finest.