Peeling paint and vintage wallpaper line the walls of this 16th century pub, adding to the relaxed, homely atmosphere of the show. Quiet chatter and large smiles, words of encouragement thrown to nervous performers. The room is warm and friendly as the first act, Guildford-based Daisy Phillips, walks onstage.
The acoustic, solo artist begins her set; soft, folky voice blending in beautifully with the gentle strumming of her guitar. The second song brings haunting vocals over plucked arpeggios: “thank God the coneflower grows”. Six originals from this young singer-songwriter.
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As Mica Jane and her band tune up, the audience begins to wander back to the stage. The band play funky rhythms as Mica’s high vocals float over the top, switching between soft and emotional to clear and beautifully harsh. The musicians exchange smiles and bob their heads along with the audience to ‘Nevermind,’ their second original indie-folk tune. Their fourth song of the night begins with a dreamlike, repetitive guitar part and tear-jerking vocals. The last of their six originals, ‘Face The Fear’, starts quietly, experimenting, as do many of Mica’s songs, with unusual rhythms. The guitar and vocals sound together, audience swaying to the beat.
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Jake Melles‘ acoustic pop set commences with some soft guitar as the audience filters back to the front of the stage. His voice and passion cut through. His second original song is a little more upbeat, and has the small crowd bopping and smiling. People laugh as the Guildford-based singer-songwriter jokes with them, playing off the relaxed atmosphere. A cover of Maroon Five’s ‘Sunday Morning’ follows, then his own single ‘Baby It’s You’. The room quietens and Melles’ slows it down with his pop-ballad ‘Speechless’, vocal runs cutting through the muted guitar before the chorus comes in. “I don’t really know what I’m about, I just like playing songs, it’s great fun.” Melles laughs between songs.
“I don’t really know what I’m about, I just like playing songs, it’s great fun.”
‘Clarity’, the title song of Jake’s EP, begins, harsher than his previous offerings. His melodies are filled with vocal runs and slides, seemingly getting higher with every repeat of the pre-chorus. The penultimate song brings an awestruck audience to absolute silence as Melles’ strums emotion from his guitar and his voice floods the room. After a quick selfie with the ever-growing crowd, the final, most well known song, ‘Leaving,’ has everyone bouncing gently. After unplugging his guitar and getting ready to leave the stage, Melles’ is called back for an encore. The final number has us all clapping and singing along. A handful even dance.
Jake generously takes a moment to speak to The Friendly Critic.
Where did you get your sound from? Who are your influences?
“I got my sound from when I started performing. The first thing I did was go to an open mic night, and my friends influenced me. Then I started listening to Jamie Cullum and later on developed more into Steven Day.”
How do you find inspiration for your songs?
“It varies, depends what’s happening in my life. I write with a lot of people and try to distance myself, it’s great to look at the world from an outside point of view. Everything that happens to me, I try to write about it to make sense of it.”
“It’s great to look at the world from an outside point of view.”
Is there a main message you want to give out?
“I feel like I’m quite honest when I play. I just try to make people feel happy. I don’t wanna upset anyone, and yes there are moments in my set that are quieter and chilled out, but generally I hope it’s just a happy and chilled vibe.”
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