I had the absolute pleasure of witnessing the Hobart leg of Claire Anne Taylor‘s album launch tour for new album, Giving It Away. Making the experience even more exciting was the fact that it was all performed in the most beautiful of settings – in that of Hobart’s historic Theatre Royal.
Claire Anne Taylor, for those unaware, is a raspy-voiced singer-songwriter with a unique, and unmistakably rich, husky voice in a similar vein to the likes of Bonnie Tyler and Melissa Etheridge. Whilst not as well known as the aforementioned singers, Claire Anne certainly has the vocal ability to match either of them, with a voice as distinctive as a rainbow in a storm and one which readily conveys the emotion of her lyrical content.
Support artist, Tasmanian singer-songwriter, Zac Henderson kicked off proceedings with a solo acoustic set which showcased his story-telling ability and at times humorous song-writing style (his song, Flash Flood being testament to this). He also relayed his strong admiration for our headliner, who had helped him with his song-writing abilities at a workshop he had attended with her some years before.
Following Henderson’s performance, a short, 20 minute documentary, filmed by Tasmanian cinematographer, Ursula Woods about the making of Giving It Away was shown on a large screen behind the stage. This further set the scene for the upcoming album launch set.
Claire Anne had assembled some of the finest musicians in Tasmania to help her record on the upcoming album, as well as the live shows which were/are to be performed in support of the album. Entering the stage, she looked genuinely touched by the response from the crowd, which was split between the stalls and the dress circle above them.
The interplay and cohesion between Taylor and the rest of the band is palpable, and there is a genuine spirit of musical camaraderie that flows through the entire band. Her voice, in all of its’ guises, is fully complimented by the impeccable bass playing of Louis Gill, the precision, power and touch of drummer Beau Thomas’ playing, the glorious guitar and slide work of Jethro Pickett and the sublime keyboard talents of Randall Muir. The sound production was brilliantly engineered by soundman, Eric Jacques, who has been accompanying the band around Tasmania on the first leg of its’ national tour.
This was a performance full of emotion, with the songs reflecting the difficult journey Claire Anne has had to face over recent times, calling into question her very existence as a musician. Her son has been diagnosed with a severe neurological disorder, Angelman Syndrome, and this has meant she has had to take stock of her life as a touring musician. However, with the help of a hugely supportive family and network of friends, she decided to keep working towards her musical goals while she and her family can still manage.
The album was performed in its’ entirety, with the new songs being well received by the near capacity audience, and running the gamut of emotions from the melancholic, through to feelings of anger and loss, and finally winding their way to acceptance and hope and the need to continue to push on despite all of the hurdles. The mood that was set by the music was highly indicative of the topsy-turvy journey that Claire Anne and her family have been on since her son’s diagnosis
The songs from the album cover a wide range of styles, from heartfelt ballads to alt-country and even an outright rocker or two. The two previously released singles, Keep On Truckin’ and Lay You Down especially brought warm applause.
A few of her older numbers from her back-catalogue finished out the show following a standing ovation and calls for an encore, and included her iconic sing-along and fan favourite, Drunken Choir and a rousing edition of the Tom Waits classic, Come On Up To The House.
This was a powerful performance by one of Tasmania’s premier performers, and it left this reviewer in no doubt as to the brilliance of Claire Anne Taylor as a performer, and the world class musicians that exist within the state of Tasmania.
As the band took its’ bow, it was obvious that this had been a hugely successful concert, and one which I suspect was somewhat cathartic for Claire Anne. She graciously and profoundly thanked the audience, before her husband and son then joined her and the band on stage, and with a tear in her eye, she bade farewell to her adoring fans.
1. The River Song
2. Swallowing Stones
3. Just A Kid
4. For Old Times Sake
6. Giving It Away
7. Stuck Around
8. Keep On Truckin’
9. Dance With Death
11. Lay You Down
1. Drunken Choir
2. Pick Your Bones
3. Come On Up
Claire Anne Taylor Band Gallery:
The national tour will continue through to May, and will take in South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Tickets and dates, along with album pre-orders are available from her website.
Zac Henderson Gallery: