Music Saturday, May 23rd Words by: Mark Bowen, pictures by: Mark Bowen

Review: Key Green @ Cafe Miro

Music Saturday, May 23rd

Review: Key Green @ Cafe Miro

Early on Saturday morning I was awoken at ten to five by the dawn chorus. I’m sure the battle of birdsong couldn’t really have been all that loud but given its setting, in a sleeping house with everything silent, there may as well been a full orchestra outside playing The 1812 Overture. IMG 2954

Context is everything and this is very true for live music. Originally KeyGreen were due to launch their debut EP ‘It All Begins Again’ outside in the courtyard at Cafe Miro on St.Owen’s Street in Hereford.

But then late afternoon the heavens opened and the performance was moved inside – a major disappointment as the band had visions of playing in pleasant late spring sunshine and I too had bought into this particularly dreamy scenario.

So damn you British weather!

Even if we were deprived of the atmospherics of an outside setting at least the sound inside with Corin Myatt, of KJM Studios where the band recorded their EP, at the helm was top-notch.

The band, consisting of Nicky Jaques on vocals, piano, clarinet and sax; her brother Tom Jaques on vocals and guitar; and Chris Butts on bass; opted to play ‘It All Begins Again’ “more or less” in its EP order. Bands spend so long working on tracklisting that this seems like an underused concept.

‘Small Things’ kicked off proceedings written about Nicky’s partner being away at sea and the difficulties of living apart. Fittingly its rolling wave-like keyboard line seems to summon up the sea and its lyrics deal with how nature has an impact on being alone. IMG 2967

‘Grandad’s Diary’, appropriately enough, was transcribed from the pages of Nicky and Tom’s grandad’s war diary. The instrumentation reminds me of mid-seventies Fleetwood Mac and I find its insistent melody very clever.

The lyrics are hard hitting with their granddad ‘working like a dog, digging in the rain’, looking unsuccessfully for two men who have been shot down, waiting for transport as the ‘Gerries’ advance, and wondering what his wife is doing back home. A brilliant song that you need to hear.

‘Do You Remember’ is about earliest memories or at least the things you think are memories. This provoked a discussion in the audience about what their earliest memories were (mine eating a home made apple pie at the age of four).

Nicky’s soothing clarinet here is a welcome way to start proceedings and kudos to Chris’s melodic bass line which takes the song in a different direction late on.

The lyrically optimistic ‘It All Begins Again’ tells us that ‘something good it going on’, there are ‘no boundaries to many possibilities’, and ‘when the time is right you will figure it out’. Not a bad message to remember when all is going wrong and there appears to be no solution.

Tom told the audience that ‘Old Baggage’ is about “leaving things behind so you can move so”. The song benefits from a wonderful chorus (‘We’ve turned a corner, we’ve left things behind’). There is no doubt the band have a talent for harmony and here Nicky’s vocals compliment Tom especially well.

Nicky said performing the atmospheric 'Fade Down' at her grandmother's funeral was the hardest thing she has ever done. The song deals with the temporary nature of feelings that fade over time (‘These feelings they will pass, as you pass on through’) and perhaps this helps explain how ‘time heals’. 

There is no doubt the band have a special talent for harmony and songwriting. There is a certain amiable delicacy to them and especially noteworthy are their thoughtful lyrics – a very rare gift nowadays.

Key Green are Low Key and perhaps Hereford’s best kept secret. It’s time to spread the word.

The band were supported by Hannah Davies.

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