Ian Sherwood at Kings Coffee Shop: Review
The final day of the 37th Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival was a perfect sunny Sunday and I managed to see award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Sherwood perform at Kings Coffee Shop in Dumfries Town Centre.
Over that weekend I’d heard lots of good reports about him but I’d never heard his music or seen him play live before, so I was very intrigued and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Kings was a great setting for the gig which had a 5pm start; ideal for those people who weren’t lucky enough to be off work for the English Bank Holiday the next day.
Ian Sherwood previously played D&G Arts Festival in 2014 and seemed to be genuinely delighted to be invited back this year. The day before his gig at Kings he played at the Plainstanes in Dumfries and then the Ecclefechan Village Hall which he obviously enjoyed, mentioning them several times during his set. Tonight, the laid back atmosphere of Kings matched his sound and he was perfectly suited to the ambience.
He is very much a storyteller and every song was accompanied by an explanation of its background, featuring some genuinely interesting tales of his experiences and how they have inspired his song writing. Overall, he sounds like a mix between Damien Rice, Ben Howard and David Gray, with the notes in his voice varying enough to continuously hold the attention of his silent audience. His uniqueness comes in the form of loop pedals which he used in many of his songs, adding richness to his songs through guitar rhythms and vocal harmonies. To those walking past on the street outside Kings, it probably sounded like there was a full band playing inside.
Highlights of his near-2 hour set included new track ‘Firefly’, and older tracks ‘Colour Me With Love’ (making full use of a loop pedal to add in a saxophone) and ‘We’re Not Alone’. Full audience participation with singing and hand gestures was required for the last song of his set, ‘You Shot Our Love Down’, which the crowd seemed to enjoy.
It was clear to see how Sherwood has won awards such as Contemporary Singer of the Year at the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and Best Male Artist at the 2012 International Acoustic Music Awards. It was also abundantly clear that he is a genuinely nice guy who is extremely grateful to those who come out to see him play.
Let’s hope he is invited back for the 38th event next year.
Review by Melissa Gunn.