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Two Wings in Lewes

Some lovely music from Two Wings at the Needlemakers in Lewes last night...

It's a cafe that doesn't normally stage gigs and there was a somewhat shambolic air - no stage or lights, random folding chairs, a flickering subtitled film projected on a sheet. And it posed a challenge for the sound man in coping in a small space with subtle, sometimes four part, vocal harmonies alongside an exuberant drummer and amplified guitars.

Anyway, what I did hear was fine stuff and left me wanting more. There's a different dynamic from the record, not only in the balance between vocals and instruments, but also the absence of the brass section. But they're able to ring the changes instrumentally, with Hanna Tuulikki playing flute and recorder as well as guitar and driver Drew gamely stepping up to add a mandolin when needed. The musical axis lies between guitarist Ben Reynolds and drummer Owen Curtis Williams: they watch each other closely as they drive the surging music on.

What Williams doesn't do is settle into a groove and stay there: his style is questioning, punctuational, conversational with the rest of what is going on... Reynolds' Stratocaster is the dominant melodic force: the classic sound, without obvious effects. (I realised after seeing some 20 bands at the Great Escape that I hadn't heard one proper guitar solo in three days – not a gurning, widdle-widdle at the top of the neck, but some properly developed lines that take a song's melody somewhere else. Today's guitarists seem more concerned with chords and textures and Afropop chirrups. Thanks for some balance, Ben.)

So what do they sound like? The poster for the evening referred to Americana, which I don't get: for me, it is a decidedly British sound. There are definite folk roots, with an admixture of seventies rock. But it's also bang up to date and the vocal combination is clearly their own  as Lucy Duncombe's pure tone blends very nicely with Hanna's lefter-field swoops. There's a distinct whiff of prog in there too (à la Decemberists), which comes to the fore in the crashing closer 'Love's Spring', as Ben and Hanna turn their Fenders to their speakers to coax some feedback into a musical maelstrom...

OK, I'll give it my best shot: imagine that a Full House-era Fairport Convention are trying out a new female folk singer who might replace Sandy, but Dave Mattacks couldn't make it so Bill Bruford has sat in on drums, and then a time machine arrives with Kate Bush in it... 

No, you need to listen to them for yourself: trust me, you do.

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