LIVE REVIEW. Norma Jean Martine at The Servant Jazz Quarters

Date: 8 February 2017

Venue: The Sevant Jazz Quarters

Genre: Country

Words and photographyVictoria Ling


After Norma Jean Martine’s show at Servant Jazz Quarters in January SOLD OUT within hours of going on sale, a second date was added for the following month which unsurprisingly also sold out due to the venue’s intimate close quarters perfect for a peaceful evening such as tonight.

Liverpudlian country singer Laura Oakes opens  the show immediately and her distinct echoes around the room draw in the early comers to the front. She was accompanied by a fellow guitarist and the onstage chemistry between the two echoed to her interaction with the crowd. How can you not be taken in with a Laura Oakes performance? Originals like ‘Better in Blue Jeans’ and ‘Snakes & Ladders’ had the audience captivated, as did the wonderful rendition of Elton John’s classic ‘Rocket Man’ as she induced her unique country twist onto it.

There was a very relaxed atmosphere as Martine took to the stage. Many people gathered like they were having a reunion -this is the beauty of music. This is the beauty of Norma Jean Martine – bringing many people together for just a few hours while witnessing her brilliancy as she opened her set with the stomping ‘Animals’. When she performed the track ‘Angels On My Shoulders’ there were whoops from the audience as this was a live exclusive, although a few similar faces from her January date nodded knowingly as they knew this was happening for the second time. Such a heart-warming song and definitely one of hope considering the direction the world is taking! These first two numbers have Martine centre stage with the mic grasped tightly in her hand and her band lending their support with Gary on cajon, Rick on guitar and Eddie on keyboards, but for ‘I Want You To Want Me’ and ‘Hang My Hat’ the lady of the night showcases her own keyboard talents Norma2.jpg and steps into Eddie’s place bringing the audience to a standstill. She then turned to the guitar for ‘Only In My Mind’, the title track to her debut album.  Martine seems very relaxed on this night and makes the audience laugh with her heartwarming stories, including that this song is about her crazy thoughts that are only in her mind. As she introduces ‘Welcome Stranger’ she jokes for those of us not on dates maybe we actually are but we do not know it yet. Could Norma Jean Martine be anymore endearing? The answer is more than likely yes as she takes back to the keyboards running through the rest of the set before the penultimate ‘No Gold’. An encore is penned in but she jokingly points out that Servant Jazz Quarters is so small that there is no point is stepping off stage for it. No Gold was, as with the whole night, performed to perfection, with the audience singing as well as moving along too, with every centimetre they could find to move around.

I’m Still Here’ was the final track and as soon as she got up from behind the keyboard the audience jokingly chanted for more. Gary and Rick get up to exit the stage and Eddie rejoins on keyboards and after a few introductions and giggles, the crowd finally settle back down as she sings this ‘special’ song about her Dad after a song-writing session with Burt Bacharach. The room is silenced during ‘I’m Still Here’ as the audience hang on her every note ,bringing a close to a most intimate but relaxed gig.


Check out Norma Jean Martine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also let Norma serenade you here, you won’t regret it


Through the eyes of Lil Vik

EP Review. Isaac Gracie – Songs in Black and White

Released: 30th September 2016

Genre: Folk/Acoustic

Rating: ★★★★

This EP opens with a live rendition of ‘All In My Mind’, giving us a stripped back welcome to this tender and entrancing live performance at The Waiting Room, London. Hearing Isaac Gracie performing live lets you hear the delicate imperfections and heavy breaths in between verses, this is an artist who is not afraid to exhibit the most raw aspects of his being, a feature of his music that takes you off guard at first, but gradually secures an emotive connection that, once made, is hard to break. These are not simply acoustic songs, they are folk ballads (if there is such a thing).

isaac gracie.jpg

The 21-year-old from Ealing, London first caught people’s attention on Soundcloud with his track ‘Last Words’, a song recorded modestly recorded on GarageBand and posted independently online. Since growing in success and following, Isaac Gracie’s standards of recording may have drastically changed, but his approach to music has not.

The second track ‘Burn My Clothes, Bury My Clothes’ takes a slightly different tone, one reminiscent of more 60s folk and –dare I say it – expresses the influence Dylan has on him. A tale of sacrifice and heartbreak that against his delicate melodies, creates a gentle melancholy feeling. The EP then goes onto a harsher and more aggressive tale told within ‘Digging’, with a heavier electric strumming out 70s-esk psych sounds and Isaac questioning the legitimacy of love. This EP demonstrates Isaac Gracie’s ability to surf through different sounds and sub-genres of folk for sure, however, I feel this EP is more about showcasing the all-giving-non-hiding song writing talent, the way he can tell anyone’s story, remove the ego and complicated noise and get down to the raw bare-bones of it all. From remorse and desperation to retribution and blissful content – Isaac here demonstrates how to put soul into it all, how to portray the reality of any emotion in an honest and heart-wrenching song.

Check out Isaac Gracie’s Live EP here

Give him a follow on Twitter and a like on Facebook


Baker out.

INTRODUCING SAM WINSTON – The ultimate DIY artist with self produced album ‘The Fire & The Icicle’

Genre: Indie-folk pop


Sam Winston encompasses all meanings of the word ‘independent’ regarding his music. This South East London artist is building up his career one DIY milestone at a time. Not only has he written, arranged, recorded and produced ‘The Fire & The Icicle‘ all in his home-built studio, but he has done it well – an achievemt that is becoming quite hard to find these days. With self-taught expertise in many an instrument, this debut album is not just the typical solo acoustic guitar act that is becoming tireless now, we get to hear Sam play ukelele, kalimba (African thumb piano), mandolin and bass.  The album also features folk-pop melodies strummed from his own hand-crafted electro-acoustic guitar (what is this guy like?!).


The album starts off with the firey, energetic track ‘No November Like It‘, the type of song that could make for the perfect track to sing along to on a roadtrip  in the summer. Tracks such as ‘Reach You‘ and ‘Defenceless‘ showcase Sam’s ability to create a huge vocal sound and range, with self-matching harmonies and layers. Meanwhile, songs such as ‘Stand and Fight‘ and ‘The Bad Wolf‘ take a softer, more delicate style, with influences of Ben Howard shining through while bringing an original ‘Sam Winston’ jazzy undertone. ‘Who Decides?’ is a moment of self-realisation for Sam, where he questions everything and everyone around him, hopefully by the end of this album, he comes to realise how much hope and potential there is in him – Some hopeful light within the dark, just as the album artwork indicates.

Let the wonderful Sam Winston serenade you here:

(Also out now on iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify)

You can also check him out on facebook and twitter


See him do his thing live at the following dates:

25 July – Charente Festival, Brossac France

27 August – Folk On The Dock Festival, Liverpool

23 October – Park Langley, Beckenham, Kent

All images: Courtesy of Sam Winston 

Baker out.

SINGLE REVIEW. James Blake – I Need A Forest Fire

This collaboration is a seamless journey of escapism.

James Blake surprised-released his new album: The Colour In Anything last week and has now released the very minimalist video for hit single I Need A Forest Fire with Bon Iver.

In James Blake‘s first two albums, with hits such as Retrograde, he made a name for himself. He demonstrated his ability to create a deep, soundscape of R&B, lo-fi and ambient components that swallows you and sucks you into a trance. Meanwhile, we have Bon Iver, with two stunning albums showcasing a rare talent that goes miles above the popular standard perceived from their most recognisable hit Skinny Love.

It can be said that these two were a match made in heaven. 

This song opens with a growing landscape of scenic sounds very reminiscent of tracks on Bon Iver’s self-titled album. Justin Vernon‘s voice creeps into the track, giving out a raw, fragile feel that is interrupted just in time for James Blake’s expert bass drop to transform the song into a lo-fi journey. The creative influences of both artists are smoothly shown throughout, while their voices unite to create an melancholic ambience.

This track fits into, and highlights the brilliance of James Blake’s new album perfectly, while also bringing our attention back to Bon Iver’s ability to continue creating beauty in sounds.

Rating: 4/5

The Colour in Anything is out now on Spotify and iTunes.


Baker out

New Original Track – Disarming

Music is an undeniable passion, an ever-growing interest and a spectacular fascination of mine.

Aside from immersing myself into music from a consumer’s point of view through listening, watching, and reviewing, I also love songwriting and performing. I am inspired by a myriad of differing influences and always looking to progress as a musician.

You can listen to my new original song, Disarming, here.

It centres around the idea of knowing what is good for you and what is not. And when to admit and distance yourself from something that is not good for you, even if it seems like the most difficult choice of all.

This is a rough, sneak peak of my first single. The songwriting process has been so fun, and so personal to me. The process of recording and putting all of the different sounds together has also taught me a lot.

Written by Steph Baker and Simon Pitt, performed by Steph Baker.

All thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated!

Nimmo Live at the Boileroom

Here’s a live review of Nimmo with support by THOSS written for thnksfrthrvw

Date: 30/09/2015 – Boileroom, Guildford



The five-piece band came on stage and earned their place on it instantly with “I’m the best for you”. Front man Tom serenaded the crowd his low bassey notes, which would then be accentuated by the guitarist and drummers’ voices to create a huge, holistic choral sound that got the audience intrigued from the start. Thoss’s energetic vibe was conveyed throughout the set, with hits such as “Back to the eye of the storm” and “I miss the lonely nights”. The latter consisted of a curiously motown/jazz feel from the drums and bass guitar, perfectly juxtaposed by the font man’s modern and distinct voice and made even more memorable with satisfying indie hooks and electric riffs.

Thoss introduced us to their newest single “Swing” which is now available on Soundcloud and YouTube. With romantically melancholy vocal sounds and an enchanting acoustic chorus this track is sure to be an up and coming hit.

It’s quite clear that Thoss are a relatively new band, not because of their song writing ability or sound but their clearly awkward stage presence and lack of chemistry between each member. With the keyboardist and bassist hidden away in the corner, the visual performance of the set gave a tense and uncomfortable impression to the audience. However, sparks between band members and connections with audience members are things that can be achieved and progressively built up as the band gets more gigging experience and public exposure. The hardest part is creating an exciting, memorable sound and they’ve already got that part down.

Rating: 3/5

For fans of: Flyte, Mumford and Sons, Bombay Bicycle Club




Nimmo surged onto the stage in a burst of energy that exploded across the floor, got all of the audience out of their seats and to the front in order to witness the intriguing sound of this female-duo fronted electronic-pop sensation.

One of the front woman, Sarah made a welcoming connection with the crowd early on, stating that this was their first time in Guildford and that she was losing her voice, apologising in advance. However this did not show in the slightest, perhaps due to the flawless collaboration between all members of the group or their magnificent stage presence demonstrated throughout the set, emitting pure energy to the rest of the room.

Stunning harmonies between the main singers Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett frequent in the set, especially in their newest hit “Dilute this” which is now available on Spotify, The group manage to create enchanting atmospheric sounds and hypnotising vocals similar to that of Man Without Country but then take it to the next level with classic EDM/house beats and guitar riffs reminiscent of the beloved xx.

Nimmo undoubtedly have the sort of sound that needs a room packed with a young lively crowd who will give the group the hyped reaction they deserve. The crowd tonight were definitely more physically engaged with Nimmo than with their main support but it was still frustrating to witness how stubbornly static the audience members were, especially when they were being played music that leaves you with no excuse not to get up and dance. However, the London group dealt with this very well. Just when you thought songs such as “He’s so alive” had come to their natural ending, Nimmo would bring it all the way to the top again out of nowhere and hit you with another body-tingling drop.

They might not have known it, but Nimmo were just what Guildford needed, a breath of fresh, revitalising air. They are making what can, at times, be a relatively dull and monotonous music genre into the exciting and uplifting experience it should be. Hopefully this group will be getting the manic, energetic audience it deserves soon as they continue to grow and tour the country.

Rating: 5/5

For fans of: Man Without Country, Eagles For Hands, London Grammar