Alt-Country / Folk / Gig Reviews / Photos

LIVE REVIEW: Jep and Dep, Jo Meares, Ben Horder @ Newtown Social Club, Sydney (28/03/15)

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Ben Horder’s set started with some guitar issues and forgotten lyrics but that was quickly overcome and he set about delivering a batch of honest, observational songs that chronicled everyday life in Australia. With a style reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Tallest Man On Earth his set concluded with two thirds of the audience linking arms in a row and swaying in time.

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Jo Meares’ album of last year was a low-key and mesmerising collection of songs and live he created the same hypnotic atmosphere with his late-night dreamy dispatches. It was country music of a unique kind, laced with jazz undertones, Dylan-esque blues and in Meares’ voice a quietly spoken, creaking and austere delivery in the vein of Leonard Cohen. Beautifully paced and executed it was dark mood music of the finest kind.

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Jep and Dep are about to take their folk noir music over to Europe which made this gig a nice summation of their achievements over the last two years that culminated in the release of their Word Got Out album. As headliners they set the stage exactly as they wanted – dark and stark – with just two acoustic guitars, two microphones and only white light which created Lynchian cinematic shadows on the curtains behind them. In the best sounding room in Sydney the audience immersed themselves in respectful silence, hanging on each soul-stirring note sung by Jessica Cassar and the more grizzled and earthly tone of Darren Cross’ voice. The synchronicity between the pair was near telepathic whether it was lyrical phrases in perfect unison or their intertwining harmonies. Their cover of Kylie’s Confide In Me doesn’t always get aired but tonight Cassar owned it with a depth of emotion unheard in the original. Their banter between songs was contrastingly full of humour, playing off relationship tensions and Cross’ surrealistic asides. European audiences should embrace their tales of pain and abandonment wholeheartedly.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music

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