Rychard Carrington reports on Megson and Lou Brown - The Junction, Cambridge, 9 September 2009

Junction 2, The

First we had a most personable singer-songwriter-guitarist called Lou Brown (N.B. a lady). She endeared herself right from the start by not wearing any shoes - a sure winner with all of us hippies and romantics (which surely includes most of the folk audience, really). She then announced that she was a nervous gigger, and then introduced her first song (Morning Light) as having been written as a love song for a man she had hoped to marry, who upon hearing it dropped all contact with her. Like a lot of people these days, she says 'cool' a lot, but it's obviously not cool that is the essence of her appeal.

Lou has a delicately passionate voice, which expresses her sincere feelings very well. Her guitar accompaniment has a bounce which provides some yang to offset the yin of her reflective sentiments. Her songs are quite good, the only problem with them being that she does tend to repeat lines a lot, which I found a bit boring.

Characteristically, Lou very nicely implored us to buy her album as a means of supporting her, having turned professional last week, retiring from her job as a social worker. Several purchases were indeed made during the interval. We all warmed to Lou's charm, and wished her good luck. It would be lovely if she made it big.

Debbie Hanna-Palmer of Megson wasn't barefoot, but she was wearing some nice brown boots, and a most fetching psychedelic flowery dress with glitter on it. In fact Megson do look rather like a 60s folk duo, apart from the dyed streak of blonde at the front of Stu Hanna's hair. And, indeed, on their last album in particular (see Moving Tone review), Megson would meet with the approval of the overseers of the original folk revival, with their songs of the tribulations, joys and injustices of working-class life, mostly collected from nineteenth-century souces. The strength of such material is nearly always in its unaffected humanity. It's the folksinger's role to to bring out such honest emotion in their performance; Megson do this very well.

Musically, Megson's greatest asset is their voices. Debbie's is really excellent, quite beautiful. Stu joins in for top-notch harmonies.  He also accompanies proficiently on mandola and guitar. Debbie plays whistle occasionally.

The self-penned songs of these Royston residents are good too, but I hope Megson they will continue to prioritise the traditional material, becuause traditional folk deserves to benefit from such rich treatment. It provides Megson with a distinctive niche, in an era when acoustic singer-songwriters have proliferated all over the place.

Writer: Rychard Carrington