Sarah Darling review: She is ready and deserving of performing to much larger audiences on even more impressive stages
- Credit: Robert Walkley
Country music fans were in for a treat last night at Norwich Arts Centre as Sarah Darling arrived with support from Liv Austen and Vic Allen.
The first support of the evening was Vic Allen, a country singer-songwriter from Norwich. Having grown up playing musical instruments, it was only in her teenage years that she first picked up the guitar.
After finding herself unsatisfied with her office job, she made the brave decision to quit and head to Nashville for several months.
Whilst in America, Allen collaborated and worked with lots of other musicians whilst also showcasing her own material at venues such as The Bluebird Café and The Listening Room.
In the early part of 2018 she independently released a fan-funded EP called Between The Lines which we were treated to some songs off of.
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Vic Allen was confident on stage and seemed very much at ease performing in front of an audience. Her material is very well written with each song telling its own unique story.
She is an artist who shows a lot of promise and over time will likely have a successful career. As she continues to write, it would be great to hear some songs of varying tempo to create a bit more of a dynamic performance - but it was a still without a doubt a great way to start the evening.
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With the country music scene continuing to grow in the UK, it's brilliant to have a great talent coming out of Norwich.
Second up was Liv Austen, a Norwegian-born singer who first arrived in the UK in 2010. She had given up acting to pursue a career in music and it was clear to see why she had made this choice.
Having release her debut album Workin' Man's Dreams in 2014, we were treated to a number of songs off this record. The album itself embraces country and pop flavours along with many other influences that she has pulled in along the way.
One of my personal favourites was Detour which was beautifully atmospheric – performed with stunning vocals and a great additional performance from her guitarist who picked harmonics over the verse and harmonised with her in the choruses.
Liv Austen also performed a beautiful cover of Slow Burn - a song by one of her favourite artists, Kacey Musgraves. Having seen Kacey Musgraves perform this song live previously it was great to see Austen doing this song justice in her own set list.
Despite being good friends with Sarah Darling, it was obvious why she was chosen to support her as she is evidently very talented both vocally and in her song writing.
This, without a doubt, is just the start of things for Austen. She's packed to the brim with talent and the drive to go far so I am sure she will do just that.
Last but not least, it was time for Sarah Darling to grace the stage of Norwich Arts Centre. Having already played in Norwich several times before, it was great to see that a lot of people had returned to catch her performance again.
Despite having only seen her in Norwich a year ago, Sarah Darling seems to have completely upped her game and returned with a set that was even better than the last time she visited.
With her brand new album Wonderland due for release in June, it seems that her sound and song writing have greatly improved and matured into something even more special than it already was.
Her vocals were as angelic and effortless as I had remembered which she paired with a very natural stage presence. The stage is undeniably where she belongs as she sang songs from her forthcoming album and several of her previous releases.
Where Cow Boys Ride, from her 2017 album Dream Country, went down well with the audience. It's songs like this which have the ability to transport you to another time and place, so much so that if you shut your eyes you could easily feel that you were right there in the heart of her songs.
It seems practically impossible for Sarah Darling to ever sing a wrong note. Her talent continually blows me away, but most of all it's her down to earth charm that makes her so relatable and enjoyable to watch.
Her warm and soothing voice pulled off every song with absolute ease which always ended in impressive applause from the audience – all of whom seemed completely consumed in what was a top class set.
The importance of a good backing band should never be underestimated. Her four-piece band made up of a bassist, keyboard player, drummer and guitarist were just as exceptional - each remarkably talented in their own right.
It really feels like, even more so than when I last saw her, that she is ready and deserving of performing to much larger audiences on even more impressive stages. She's created this big, wholesome sound on her new album, the kind that wouldn't be misplaced in arenas.
If you like your country music, then Sarah Darling is an artist that you absolutely must check out and try and catch at one of her future shows.