Thanks to a gracious invitation from Cyber Nomad Records I found myself at the historic Troubadour in Earl’s Court, which over the years has hosted sets from everyone from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix, to see the up-and-coming singer/songwriter Alex Hedley. Emerging from acclaimed indie folk four piece Saturday Sun, Alex has now embarked on a solo adventure and has recently released his debut EP Shadow Lake. With a dark, complex and ambitious folk style similar to Eaves, one of Belwood’s most celebrated artists, expectations were high for his intimate performance at this iconic venue.
Alex’s set was part of a songwriter showcase, which brought in music lovers, industry whiz kids and intrigued passers-by. One of the most notable acts in the showcase was young Julian Lebender. He displayed a high level of musicianship with his fingerpicking style and created rich lyrical narratives with the greatest of ease. His storytelling included the as yet unfinished tale of a young homeless girl on the tube and a relatable tune about the mixed emotion surrounding leaving school for the final time. Nerves got the better of him on occasion to the detriment of his vocals, but he is certainly a talented lad.
It didn’t take long for Alex’s set to catch me off-guard. The impression that the majority of his EP gave was one of a more subtle folky style akin to Nick Drake. Whilst Nick never really put his vocals at the forefront, Alex’s vocals were the main attraction. With his impassioned delivery he certainly didn’t need a microphone, his voice could have filled a venue several times larger. At times his vocals reminded me of the late great Jeff Buckley. He explored his expansive range and pushed himself to his limits at every suitable opportunity. It wasn’t a flawless performance but therein lied it’s charm, the tiny cracks in the façade added a world of character and made the performance feel unique.
For the most part his set avoided his EP material, with the exception of a stirring rendition of ‘One Day’. Instead the new songs such as ‘Heretic Song’ and the foot stomping ‘Only Joker in a Pack of Kings’ showed that he still has a lot of music still to offer. There were a couple of cuts from his Saturday Sun days as well as a cover of Neil Young’s classic track ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’ which showed his guitar prowess could live up to his vocals. His laidback manner was easy to get behind and he kept the focus squarely on the music. Hedley has the talent and the ambition to go far and create something truly memorable. He walks a different path that sets him apart from most of vast folk scene and he has now shown that he can replicate it live. This is certainly someone to keep an eye on.