By Phoebe Caine, Digital Arts Editor
The mystique of the seventies slowly rises like the winter sun with the music of Sam Burton and Lady Apple Tree (Haylie Hostetter). These two are a trembling channel of the bronzy haze and warmth of vintage folk, country and pop rock tradition. A perceptible sway took shape; the performance had the crowd riveted to their nostalgic sound rather than the floor they stood on.
Incongrous with the set up of SWX, casually clad Sam and Haylie stepped out onto a stage struck by bright lights of impersonal purple and blue. Bringing a blisteringly cool Californian past into the present, the retro space their sound and skill occupies was out of place in the characterless modern club.
It became even more clear as their set progressed that, here in front of us, were people with true soul and honesty. Intimate and understated, their almost bashful presence felt like watching friends performing at a party - as though the two had caught us up in their melodies by leaning against a doorway, keeping the majority of the audience’s attention held in their gazes until the end. The background chatter, of the part of the crowd less deserving of their time, added to the sense that those of us listening in were tuned in and hooked on real potential.
I couldn’t help but imagine empty desert highways and old Americana motels; the two sprawled, guitars and all, on the lush grass of a mid-century home or singing through the harsh dust kicked up at the back of an open truck, complete with a southern sky dotted with stars above. Tapping into the rich veins of the raw bohemianism that shaped music today, Sam and Haylie may evoke ideas of dusty mornings and blue under-eyes, but in this they promise us a sparkling and newly dewy revival of indulgent folk. Like the guitar laying across the guitarist's lap behind the two of them, each track lazed out and made each of us woozy with longing to do the same with someone we love.
A stand out of this set has to be Lady Apple Tree’s cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Didn’t Want To Have To Do It’. I had genuinely been searching for a version that was as stunning and catastrophic as Cass Elloit’s take, but one that worked with the drooping stylistic ease of artists such as Weyes Blood or Faye Webster. This is it. With a voice as captivating and gorgeous as this, the distinct chatter quietened, dispersed by the embrace of vocals that echo, instead of parody, those of Karen Carpenter, Carole King or Hope Sandoval.
And despite this, Haylie somehow appears as something altogether new, and I am so excited to see what original work she may put out next.
Featured Image: Phoebe Caine
Have you listened to Sam Burton?