Jacob & Drinkwater – the Folk House, Bristol

Sunday 9th September, 2018

I first saw this excellent duo last year as part of 40 gigs and have been waiting for the opportunity to see them again since. That night I didn’t know their music and was knocked sideways by strongly I felt afterwards. I remember walking home in the rain feeling an emptiness inside that had been named and bought out by their music.

I’ll admit to being slightly nervous about seeing them again tonight, would they be as good? Every gig is a unique experience and a confluence of so many factors. It is an interplay between audience and artist and that varies depending on the room. Perhaps Gruff Rhys was on to something with his group dynamic theory stuff after all!

I haven’t been back for a second go at music I discovered last year many times, as most of the experiences were too special to replicate. But. I love the Folk House and I love Jacob and Drinkwater’s music so I was prepared to take the risk tonight.

Bristol Folk House is a brilliant venue. Odd, in a good way, with the best selection of non alcoholic and caffeine free drinks a woman could ask for, gluten free cakes and a homely feel. Go. Pop in to the cafe, take a course, or see a gig there.

Saskia Griffiths-Moore was our support. Clear and bright of voice with songs that tell stories, you like folk, you will like her. I preferred the new song, debuted for us, and the final track where she let her voice go a little more. She did have a slight cough and my ears are still ringing from last night’s very loud brass gig so it is hard to judge fully, but I liked what I heard.

Jacob & Drinkwater played for almost 90 minutes but it felt like 5, the time melted away with their heartfelt songs. The sardonic wit was also in evidence. These are men, writing and singing songs about troubling emotions, they have to lighten the tension of that somehow. For themselves and us.

Jacob (confusingly that’s his surname) takes lead vocals and guitar, Drinkwater (not a command) double bass and harmonies. Two men, two instruments and their voices. The way they use that simple sounding premise to explore dark, disturbing, buried emotions is brilliant. Devil, the song I thought sounded a bit like Jagger last time, is all brooding and swirling with almost flamenco guitar. Real Love, Polyphonic Life and the closer Your Sweet Smiling Face had my eyes moistening. One line in the last song was a real sucker punch to the guts. I’ve walked along similar paths. I recognised too much. Jacob’s voice is one of those that, in that brilliant, indescribable way, just get me. There is longing, loneliness and pain in these songs. They connected and hit me hard in the same places they did last time.

They did an amazing cover of Bird on a Wire, totally acoustically among the audience. There were also new songs for a forthcoming album (please support the crowdfunder for it). One even darker, exploring themes of war and loss, the other slightly less severe but still more political.

You like heartfelt and beautifully delivered songs? So do I. That is why I love Jacob and Drinkwater.



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