Preview: This week’s gig guide
Quirky singer-songwriter Devon Sproule, who has a talent for combining Appalachian, folk and jazz influences, is among those visiting this week. Others include live dance outfit Dub Mafia, blues/rock newcomer Jon Allen and fast-rising grime hip hop star Devlin.
Norwich Arts Centre, May 27
With her trademark vintage dresses and 50-year-old Gibson guitar, Devon Sproule returns to the Arts Centre.
Born to hippie parents on a commune in Kingston, Ontario, the singer-songwriter claims dual citizenship with both Canada and the US. She has a talent for combining Appalachian, folk and jazz influences which ooze the atmosphere of balmy Virginia days. Sproule's first UK release, Keep Your Silver Shined, proved an indie hit for her Coventry-based label Tin Angel Records, topping year-end lists, landing her a spot on Later with Jools Holland.
I Love You, Go Easy, the latest studio record from the 28-year-old, sent her back to her place of birth, Ontario, Canada. Even at its most sombre and reflective moments, its an album that never loses the sparkling tenderness and humour that has characterised all of Sproule's work.
While sonically sparser than any of her recent records, its a thematically logical next chapter to Sproule's story. It's a story that has always revolved around her relationships with people — most notably, her husband, Paul Curreri, a fellow Tin Angel Records recording artist.
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t Further listening: www.devonsproule.com
Norwich Arts Centre, May 28
Since forming in 2009, festival favourites Dub Mafia have built up an international a lively and energetic fanbase for their dub-heavy live dance music.
The seven-piece Bristol band combines drum n bass, dub, dubstep but their sound is impossible to categorise, comprising of such a diverse range of different influences drawing from funk, jazz and hip hop.
However Andrew, the drummer's set-up of acoustic and electronic drums, along with their extravagant five Congo percussionist, Jago, makes for very powerful driving rhythms. Add to that live bass, guitar, turntable spinning and the soaring talent of vocalist Eva.
What really sets the band apart however is that they use no backing tracks. They play their music 100% live with beats, dub bass lines, ferocious guitar licks, skanking vibes, scratching, saxophone and soulful vocals all produced live on stage, not from backing tracks.
The band comprises former members of the Bristol-based band Blackout who built a solid following by constantly touring of the club and festival circuits. Dub Mafia are currently in the process of recording their first album to be released next year.
t Further listening: www.dub-mafia.com
Norwich Arts Centre, May 31
'The new Dylan' has been the tag-line hung like a noose around the neck of many emerging male solo artists over the years, the female equivalent being 'the new Joni Mitchell'.
Therefore for fear of falling into the aforementioned trap Jon Allen is definitely not the new Dylan. For a start he's a lot taller (6'1') and he is British with a voice more like Rod Stewart's than Dylan's. However without wanting to crush him with weight of expectation, it can be said without hyperbole that his music does contain a natural link with Dylan's in its lyrical and melodic approach.
His debut album, Dead Man's Suit, was funded purely from income generated by 20,000 downloads of his song Going Home which featured in a Landrover advert. It received a succession of positive reviews, Radio 2 playlist picks, a personal request from Jools Holland to have him on Later and an impressive six figure publishing deal.
Now nearly two years on the Devon-based troubadour is at the Arts Centre ahead of the launch of his new album, Sweet Defeat, which is released on June 20. It builds on the Americana/acoustic foundations of his debut, ranging from solo finger-picked songs to the laidback 'Tulsa Sound' of J.J. Cale to the album's title track, an upbeat number complete with a brass section that conjures up memories of Van Morrison at his soulful best.
t Further listening: www.jonallensongs.co.uk
UEA, June 1
Since Plan B got suited and booted for his soul reinvention, Devlin has stepped into the hip hop breach. The baby of the grime scene, Devlin, 21, who hails from Essex, may not have the profile of Tinie Tempah but he has quickly established a fanbase big enough to fill the UEA.
He's notorious for having the best vocabulary in grime, which he delivers sharply on his socially aware debut album, Bud, Sweat & Beers, which came out at the end of last year to critical acclaim.
His rapid-fire lyrics have a feverish quality — and he releases an outpouring of imagery about a nation let down by its government, and questions what damage we are doing to the planet from a spiritual perspective.
He draws on his working-class white background in Dagenham and transforms it into the urban realism of a poet. 'I try and put my heart into my lyrics. I touch on a subject that means something to me or that I see going on around me,' he says. 'I'm talking about real subjects and keeping the music real. There is good and bad in the world. I just think the people who run the world should look after vulnerable people.'
Born in Dagenham in 1989, the son of a council worker mum and forklift driver dad, he worked in factory jobs until breaking into the music business.
He said: 'I told my parents I'm going to have a proper go of the music first and if it doesn't work out I'll go back to a dead-end job for the rest of me life.'
t Further listening: www.officialdevlin.com
SOUNDS IN THE CITY
Pure Negative + more (metal) — B2
Bad Touch (rock) — King Edward VII
World's Apart (rock) — Brickmakers
Fringe Fest Presents: Fine City Sounds + more — Bedfords
Metal Lust: feat. Desecration/Warlord UK + more (metal) — The Garage
Dr Misfit (rock) — Blueberry
Them Harvey Boys (bluegrass) — Brewery Tap
Harley Trio: feat. Lena Black (swing/jazz) — Walnut Tree Shades
Son of Cash — Silver Road Cottage
Dan Star — Gibraltar Gardens
Unlawfully Yours — Woolpack
Pyevarotti — Trowel & Hammer
4 Play — Moles Rest
Ricci — Perseverance
Play Fest: feat. Frank Turner + more — New Eccles Hall
Access To Music: feat. Walkway + more (rock) — Waterfront
Metal Lust: feat. Adreniside + more (metal) — B2
Charity All Dayer: feat. The Leopard Trio + more (1-6pm) — Golden Star
Tenderhooks (rock/mod) — Blueberry
To The Last (rock) — Boundary
The Life Crisis (rock)— King Edward VII
Thin Ice (rock) — Long Arms
Guns Or Roses (tribute) — Brickmakers
Flatpack Saturday (indie/1.30pm) — Arts Centre
Terry Adams (singer) — Angel Gardens
Jamie K — Champion
Kevin Solo — Heath House
Alan Ley — Quebec
Play Fest: feat. The Futureheads + more — New Eccles Hall
Bike Show: feat. Rox Off/World's Apart (rock) — Boundary
James Goodwin (piano) — Brewery Tap
One Night of Queen (tribute) — Theatre Royal
Trailer Park & Friends — Rivergarden
The Bunkadoos (4.30pm) — Silver Road Cottage
Lee Vasey Big Band (12pm) — Brickmakers
Framing Hanley (rock) — Waterfront
Bank Holiday Bash: feat. 12 bands (12pm-12am) — Brickmakers
Mel Steven & The Strollers — Akwrights
ABC Blues Brothers (tribute) — Quebec
Jazz N Jam: feat. Lee Vasey — Blueberry
Mayday Parade (pop-punk) — Waterfront
Renato D'Aiello Quartet (Jazz) — Rackheath Green Man
Open Mic — Steam Packet
Lee Vasey & Friends — Trowel & Hammer
The Session (Irish) — Brewery Tap
Pure Acoustic (open mic) — Brickmakers
Allison Williams & Rachel Eddy (acoustic/country) — Arts Centre
Astral Void (indie/rock) — B2
Firewire (rock/punk) — Brickmakers
7th Note (acoustic) — Blueberry
The Keno Kings (blues) — Walnut Tree Shades
Pat Falhan Trio — The Rose