2022 was a year of prodigious output for OS musicians. Dylan (aka, Tash Woods (Queen’s 18)) fulfilled her destiny as a stadium rocker by supporting the unstoppable Ed Sheeran on his stadium tour. She also released a wonderful mixtape album The Greatest Things I’ll Never Learn. Here is my critique from the date of its release:

“From the moment you press play, Dylan grabs you by the ears and gives them a serious trouncing as she delivers her take on learning to love and be loved. Whilst examining her wishes, doubts and insecurities and questioning her lover’s true intentions and sincerity, Dylan captivates the listener with such originality in lyrics and storytelling and energises the whole listening experience with utterly infectious and driving rhythms that one’s attention is held throughout the album. You suddenly realise that you have been listening to the entire album with a huge smile on your face!”

Caspar (Wallersteiner, Chatham 17) released his debut album Hesitation Wounds. This is an album of immense power and introspection and whilst feeding off his own experiences of coping with the Human Condition, his songs will resonate with a wide audience who will appreciate the sympathy and the ‘you-are-not-alone-ness’ of his lyrics, whilst being empowered and transported by the vibrant urgency of the music and the power of his backing band. Strong stuff and hugely enjoyable!

Ladybyrd (aka Mimi Pearson-Gee, Nugent 21) is seriously one-to-watch. A fecund writing talent, both musically and lyrically. In 2022 she released a clutch of singles and a belter of a debut EP Sub Zero. In my social media review of this EP, I observed:

“By comparison with Taylor Swift’s early foot stamping, door slamming, early twenties angst concerning the vagaries of her nascent love life. Ladybyrd’s observation of her burgeoning entanglements, with all of their hopes and disappointments, is more introspective and philosophical. She obviously appreciates that what is happening to her is a learning curve and that, through these experiences, things will get better. Each song is a little jewel, beautifully sung and delicately arranged and the title track, despite its intrinsic reflections, is upbeat and contains a hugely infectious earworm, which will stay in your head for hours.”

There is so much talent emanating from Stowe and I shall be intrigued to experience the new talent as it is released from the Chung Music School. Meanwhile, I am hoping that 2023 will give more exposure to the immense talent that is Mali Mae (Aitchison, Nugent 18). She has a varied and exciting oeuvre that needs to be universally appreciated! Let’s see what 2023 has in store for her!

2022 was another fulfilling year for Stowe-X Music members. Some of the live gig highlights came from the excellent Fleetwood Mac Rumours-era styled band Morganway, who raised the roof of the Half Moon in Putney. If you like Fleetwood Mac, Deacon Blue and a British take on Americana, this is the band for you.

Terrific songs confidently and expertly performed with great guitar licks, dexterous keyboard work, driving bass lines and powerfully pulsating drumming, all given an added dimension by overriding spirited violin playing and a lead singer whose voice, I can only assume, was brought to us courtesy of the Lockheed Martin Wind Tunnel, such is the power and range of this natural phenomenon! They will be back on tour again soon, I am sure, so watch out for them.

A balmy evening in May was greatly enhanced by a visit to the Shepherds Bush Empire where one of my favourite bands Larkin Poe were performing. The two Lowell sisters, Megan and Rebecca have always impressed with their talent but now their performance is enhanced by an innate confidence which adds another dimension to their act. Backed by a bass player delivering hugely satisfying bass runs and a drummer (sadly I do not know either of their names) who fires up the band’s engine and keeps it running continuously, the two sisters are consummate performers. Megan delivers blistering solos on her slide guitar whilst covering every inch of the stage and Rebecca shows colossal digital dexterity as she creates wonderfully satisfying guitar riffs and pure vocal perfection, hitting the big notes spot on and delivering the lyrics with perfect diction. Her repartee with the audience was genuine, cosy and humble. Her story telling, whilst delivering her vocals, enhanced by exquisitely elegant hand and arm movements. Of course, two individuals can produce perfect harmonies but never so good as siblings of the same kin. There is an innate chemistry or in this case, let’s call it “Kinistry”, when siblings perform together and the obvious joy that these two sisters get from performing so closely with each other is an absolute joy to see. Their latest album Blood Harmony is an absolute banger – eleven tracks of pure unadulterated joy!

Now, having missed catching Roxanne de Bastion as Nerina Pallot’s support act last Autumn, I was delighted to be at the closing show of her headlining tour at The Lexington. Accompanied by her band, consisting of cello, violin, keyboard, guitars and drums, Roxanne showcased songs from both of her excellent albums. Her lyrics are poignant and philosophical, meaningful and completely genuine. They hold one’s attention throughout as do the delightful and emotive melodies. Roxanne’s stage persona is totally charming and all embracing, creating a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere.

So, what does 2023 have in store for us on the live gig circuit – and who shall I be eulogising about? Well, we shall just have to see!

Meanwhile, if you are a singer/songwriter or play in a band, please let either me or my colleague Shannon Devlin (Stanhope 15) know and let us see how we can help you.

Nigel Milne (Chandos 68)