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Jackie Oates, Lush Studios, London live review

The folk singer premiered songs from her upcoming album The Joy Of Living.

Jackie Oates
Credit: Jackie Oates

Since being named as a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award finalist in 2003, Jackie Oates has become one of the leading lights of the UK folk scene. She’s won two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (including the 2009 Horizon Award), performed with Rachel Unthank and the Winterset and The Imagined Garden, and toured the UK as well as appearing at festivals around the country. Next month she’ll release her seventh album, The Joy Of Living, and previewed some of the songs from the record at an intimate show at Lush Studios.

Oates opened the set with Caroline And Her Young Sailor Bold, the story of a young couple from different sides of the tracks. Her fiddle playing gave the song a full tone which complemented her guitarist Jack Rutter’s bright melodies, and there was a beautiful clarity to her vocal. The audience broke into loud applause and cheers when she finished and this set the tone for the rest of the performance.

Throughout the short set Oates showcased the breadth of the record with songs like the jaunty My Shoes Are Made Of Spanish (which she added her own verse to), the evocative Scottish folk tune Freedom Come All Ye and the convict transport song Virginie, which took on a new feel through her sweet, breathy vocals. Oates also often broke off to chat about making the album, the history of the songs she performed and her ventures into songwriting. She came across as very warm and engaging and kept the audience laughing throughout.


One standout moment for me came early on when Oates performed The Last Trip Home, which she arranged for her late father’s memorial service. She injected the gentle song with a huge amount of emotion and her harmonies with Jack were just gorgeous. I’ll admit I brushed away a tear and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one! I also loved Spring Is Coming Soon which Oates often sings to her young daughter and which was full of love and affection, and her yearning take on John Lennon’s Mother (where she hit some very impressive notes!).

Oates closed her set with the album’s title track, which was originally written by the legendary folk musician Ewan MacColl. She struck the perfect balance between the sadness and optimism of the lyrics and her tone was utterly beautiful. It was another incredibly moving moment and showed why she’s held in such high esteem by the folk music community.

This was my first experience of hearing Oates performing live, and based on this I’ll definitely be back for more when she tours the UK later this year. Her voice is sweet, clear and rich and she has a wonderful gift for bringing scenery and characters to life in her songs. If you’re a fan of traditional folk music with a fresh take then I highly recommend you give her album a spin when it’s released on 24th August. Now I’m off to catch up on her back catalogue…

Set list: 1. Caroline And Her Young Sailor Bold 2. The Last Trip Home 3. My Shoes Are Made Of Spanish 4. Spring Is Coming Soon 5. Rosy Apple 6. Mother 7. Freedom Come All Ye 8. Virginie 9. The Joy Of Living Performance date: 26th July 2018

See Jackie Oates on tour in the UK in 2018/19:

7th August 2018 – Sidmouth Folk Week
12th August 2018 – Dartmoor Folk Festival
25th August 2018 – Oxford Storytelling Festival
15th November 2018 – Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham
16th November 2018 – Pound Arts Centre, Fordham
17th November 2018 – Tuppenny Barn, Emsworth
21st November 2018 – The Greystones, Sheffield
24th November 2018 – Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth
2nd February 2019 – The Arc, Stockton on Tees
8th February 2019 – The Platform, Morecambe
9th February 2019 – The Met, Bury
10th February 2019 – Whitstable Sessions, Whitstable
12th February 2019 – Water Rats, London
13th February 2019 – West End Centre, Aldershot
15th February 2019 – Starcross, Devon
20th February 2019 – Aberystwyth Arts Centre
3rd April 2019 – Willows Folk Club, Arundel


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