Song Suffragettes has become a key part of Nashville’s music scene since its launch back in 2014. The all-female writers’ round, which takes place every Monday night, has seen stars including Ashley McBryde and Lindsay Ell grace its stage and serves to champion women in country music. Now it’s finally made its way over to the UK for a short tour – featuring co-founder Kalie Shorr, country newcomers Carter Faith and Robyn Ottolini, and UK artist Twinnie – including a show at London’s Bush Hall last night.
The show opened with an introduction from Todd Cassetty, the founder of Song Suffragettes, who also made an exciting announcement (we can’t say too much on that yet but there will be more news soon!) before the four artists arrived on stage. They also later brought out country duo Ward Thomas, adding yet another flavour to the show and showing that UK female country songwriters can hold their own alongside the US artists.
Carter Faith kicked off the set, performing her recent single ‘Greener Pasture’. Her distinctive voice, with its blend of sweet tones and husky touches, worked brilliantly with the storytelling of the song and she filled it with feeling. I also loved seeing the other artists singing along with her, including Robyn Ottolini on harmonies. She was followed by Twinnie, who played her new song, the wistful ‘Good For You’. It was good to see a different side of her and you could see she was pouring herself into the performance. Next up, Kalie Shorr kicked off her songs with the heartfelt ‘Escape’, a song written about her sister with a frank look at the impact of addiction, which was made even more powerful by her low-key delivery of the song. In the hands of another artist, that could have ended up being really overblown, but her soft approach gave it a massive dose of emotion. Lastly, Robyn closed the first round with her debut single ‘F-150’, about trying to move on from an ex even when you see their car everywhere. I loved the changes of tempo, which added to the character of the song, and the twist ending was excellent, enhanced by the edge and yearning in her vocals. The group then surprised us all by introducing Lizzie and Catherine – AKA Ward Thomas – who delivered a lush, delicate performance of their song ‘Cartwheels’ that showed off their gorgeous harmonies.
One thing I love about songwriters’ rounds is that many artists use them for showcasing new music. In the second round, Carter performed ‘Late Bloomer’ for the first time live, a song she dedicated to her mentor, which had a lovely delicate quality to it, whilst Twinnie played a song she’d finished that day, ‘The Way I Loved You’. Dedicated to a recent ex who’d dumped her over email, the song was surprisingly emotional and you could feel the rawness of it like a punch in the gut. From there, the night turned into a celebration of female empowerment, with the performers bigging her up (more on that later) as they sipped wine and cracked jokes together. Keeping with the new music theme, Kalie then played the grungy ‘Dirty Movies’, a song she’d just finished the day before – with help from the others – about trying and failing to get the images of a cheating ex out of your head, before Robyn sang the introspective ‘Five Years’, reflecting on life goals and fears of failure. Ward Thomas then closed the section with their second and final song, ‘Love Does’, a warm, bright ode to growing together with the right person and feeling pushed to do more than you might have expected to.
For her last song in the set, Carter played ‘Leaving Tennessee’ as requested by an audience member (after the four artists went into a long and rambling diversion that had the audience in stitches!). Her delicate vocals worked beautifully over the song’s rich melody and dreamy, romantic lyrics. For a complete contrast, Twinnie played her latest single, the feisty ‘Bad Bad Bitch’, mashed up with ‘Better When I’m Drunk’, which had a great sense of swagger and defiance about it. Kalie then amplified that with ‘F U Forever’, a rocky kiss-off anthem that saw all four artists raising their middle fingers aloft and chanting, as the stomping melody belied self-deprecating yet dark lyrics. To finish the set, Robyn played ‘Katie’s Song’, which she wrote for her older sister. I loved the anthemic, upbeat chorus in particular and it felt like a strong note to end the main performance on.
The Song Suffragettes tradition is to close the show with a cover song, and all four artists then sang together on a version of Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’. It was a punchy, powerful performance, with all four of them jamming out together and delivering some amazing harmonies, and was met with huge roars and thunderous applause from the audience. All four artists could later be spotted signing autographs and saying hello to fans in the lobby, reinforcing the sense of connection that Song Suffragettes creates.
Overall it was a triumphant London debut for Song Suffragettes. All four artists shone individually, showing off their songwriting skills as well as their incredible vocals, and they bounced off each other so well throughout the performance too. I can’t wait to see where they all go from here and really hope we get more opportunities to see Song Suffragettes over here in the UK soon!
Set list: 1. Greener Pasture (performed by Carter Faith) 2. Good For You (performed by Twinnie) 3. Escape (performed by Kalie Shorr) 4. F-150 (performed by Robyn Ottolini) 5. Cartwheels (performed by Ward Thomas) 6. Late Bloomer (performed by Carter Faith) 7. The Way I Loved You (performed by Twinnie) 8. Dirty Movies (performed by Kalie Shorr) 9. Five Years (performed by Robyn Ottolini) 10. Love Does (performed by Ward Thomas) 11. Leaving Tennessee (performed by Carter Faith) 12. Bad Bad Bitch/Better When I’m Drunk (performed by Twinnie) 13. F U Forever (performed by Kalie Shorr) 14. Katie’s Song (performed by Robyn Ottolini) 15. New Rules (Dua Lipa cover) (performed by Carter Faith, Twinnie, Kalie Shorr and Robyn Ottolini) Performance date: 22nd October 2022