12:49PM, Thursday 31 July 2014
Searching for the Sugar Man is a film detailing the efforts of two ardent fans that go in search of Sixto Rodriguez, to determine if his rumoured death was fact or fiction. Tonight I found the Sugar Woman, Juliet Lawson, writes Alan Dutters
Rodriguez was showcased as the next Dylan. Back in 1972 when she released “Boo” her debut album, she was aligned alongside Joni Mitchell, Dory Previn and Janis Ian.
My journey to find the Sugar Woman was simple, a church in Marlow which morphs into The Life of Riley Club on Saturday, July 19. Here I found Juliet Lawson on a hot humid summer evening sharing with the audience her fear of thunderstorms.
Before each song she offers a story, detailing when or why the song was written. The songs feel they were written and constructed in the seventies as in “Dear Fool”, which feels comforting and somewhat nostalgic. Her vocal range hasn’t diminished, church acoustic take the pain of a lost love and bounce the emotion around and around as in,” Is it Really You?”
Everything she does seems easy, with a flow and style from her elegant dress and trousers attire, to the superb Christian Marsac on guitar. This is a quality singer/songwriter at work.
It’s story time again, and she tells the audience how she hasn’t released new material in ten years. Well guess what, here comes the new stuff, an EP, “Songs from the Suitcase”.
“Days gone By” tells of a relationship between a married couple and his unmarried sister growing old together in a large farmhouse. As the world goes by they simply get on with their lives, jobs, tasks, routine each and every day. The lyrics are sharp, concise and more importantly poignant. Marsac’s stringed arrangement on this song allows for the word play to be fully appreciated. Laura Marling doesn’t write better than this, fact. Goose bumps guaranteed.
Moving over to a full sized piano she begins “Come back Mary Lou”. Bang up to date this tells of the kidnapping of children from Nigeria. One of the children who went missing was Mary Lou. As Juliet explains “Just a name on a page, that no one did anything about”. Again it’s more concise than her older work and has a clear demarcation line between old and new.
“Too busy looking at the Moon” is taken from her second album The One That Got Away which is affectionately known as the pink album . The song wraps around you like a well worn cardigan, comfortable, reliable with a smile throughout. With “Sign of the fallen Angel” she shows the girl can still rock. We even get a F word thrown in during Mammalover. The wonderfully thought provoking “Don’t leave your thoughts with Me” all pay testament to the range and diversity offered on her third and currently last studio album “Where I’m Coming From”.
Jazz, blues, folk, ballads, love stories, regrets, plans, old and new, her songs have it all in abundance.
I’ve no idea why the career everyone said she had all those years ago never came to fruition. But she certainly has a career in front of her now with the quality of this new material.
The Sugar Woman is alive and well, Juliet don’t go away again.
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