The next time I’m at a dinner party with the high and mighty, listening to the music they’ve just ‘discovered’ which has coincidentally been rammed into their collective consciousness by the usual well-financed and perfectly synchronized media campaign, I might seek refuge in an alternative truth.
A friend who went to a folk festival found himself camped next to a couple of women who played music together. He passed on some of their music to me and when I pressed ‘play’ on the tape recorder time sort of stood still and it seemed that something very special had found its way to me.
Some months later I attended a performance by this duo, whose name is Ember, at a local folk club. Right from the get-go, their voices blending magically, the amazement level was high.
Rebecca used a steel-strung guitar and occasionally a harmonica and a clarinet. Emily preferred classical guitar and played humorous pizzicato on a violin.
Two voices without vibrato glided and swooped like wagtails through beguiling songs whose origins, as the girls revealed, were often pretty mundane but were sung with such spirit that they took on a more profound meaning, at least from where I sat.
Ember dressed informally and communicated easily both with the audience and with each other. They made it seem as if they had got to where they were, both geographically and artistically, without effort, as if self-expression and self-promotion were as natural as sleeping, and they left us with the enigmatic line: ‘I see my face in the cutlery.’
The audience was repeatedly urged to participate, but how could they? It was like those interminable requests for emails and texts on daytime radio. Why would anyone want to contaminate the air when it is filled with music?