Please note that the below article was originally posted on the now closed High on Reviews:
It was a strange sort of gig. Set in the kind of place that could easily be the guilty scene of a rowdy night out. We arrived late, the place was packed, every available seat taken, tables piled with dirty plates and empty bottles. On stage a band plucked their way through a Spanish sounding song – and everyone was deathly quiet.
Our friend’s eyes lit up in greeting and a finger flipped to her lips as she mouthed that we had to stay silent.
It felt a little awkward at first, but we soon saw the sense in the request. The sound was full, the musicians focussed and our ears didn’t have to compete with the shrill protestations of a chick on her sixth Brutal Fruit.
Alma Cafe is a great venue. The sound is amazing, it’s intimate, tucked away in a quiet corner of Rosebank – and it’s where I fell in love with Lucy Kruger.
She was the second performer we saw that night and from the moment she perched gingerly on the edge of a bar stool, caressed her guitar and opened her mouth to sing I was mesmerised. Others drifted in and out for smokes and bad jokes, but I stood leaning against a rusted old Coke fridge spellbound.
I caught her afterwards to say thanks, I devolved into gushing fan girl mode, but I didn’t care. It was the first time I’d ever been so affected by a live performance and I needed to tell her. I asked if she had an album, she blushed and said there was one on the way in the next few months. I said I would wait as long as it took.
And here it is. Lucy Kruger’s folksy, indie, alternative debut album Cut Those Strings. It plays in a continuous loop in my car. I’ve listened to track eight, Four White Walls, more times than I recall. It’s not the same Lucy Kruger as I saw on stage that night at Alma. There it was just her and her guitar and a simple drum. The album features the likes of Albert Frost, Melissa van der Spuy, Schalk Joubert, Kevin Gibson, Dave Langemann and Inge Beckmann.
Each listen yields fresh flavours of other powerful female musicians. There are hints of what attracted me to the likes of the Cranberries, Florence and the Machine, Kate Bush, Tanita Tikaram and Tori Amos. But that first Lucy I saw so humble of stage all those months ago still shines through.
Her songs are poetry, and as beautiful with the full backing of a band as they are stripped down and intimate. Your favourite will change as your mood shifts. The weight of her words now light and transient, now laden with heavy meaning.
If you’ve never heard her music, do yourself a favour, find out where she’s performing next, go see her for yourself and make sure you get this album.
Catch Lucy at Alma Cafe on October 31. For more information, see www.lucykruger.com or follow her on Twitter @lucy_kruger