Live | Wilsen @ Slaughtered Lamb, London

For Folk's Sake | Wilsen

There’s a bit of a buzz developing around Wilsen. And, sure enough, the amount of the people in the room grew considerably as 9 o’clock rolled around and it was time for the New Yorkers to take to the stage for their first UK headline gig, although it was great to see For Folk’s Sake favourite Sophie Jamieson taking the support slot and winning the crowd over with her beautifully crafted songs.

Wilsen, headed up by Tamsin Wilson (see what they did there?) kicked things off with ‘House On A Hill’. A track that got everyone immediately acquainted with her truly gorgeous voice. It’s so pure that on record it nearly has that auto-tuned quality on some of the long notes – even her whistle is a bit magical.

They supported Daughter on their recent and very successful tour of the US. There is certainly a similarity between the two outfits, and this extends beyond the fact they are both three-piece bands, fronted by females. The comparison is no bad thing, of course, and anyone who enjoys the musical offerings of Elena Tonra and co. will definitely like Wilsen.

Album title track ‘Sirens’ was gorgeous live as was ‘Paper Ships’ ­– both starting paired back (a guitar here, a xylophone trill there) and swelling into something more anthemic before ebbing away again. Ukulele solo number ‘December’ provided a nice break in the set, and showed that the band’s songs are just as charming in their simplest form.

Overall, you get the feeling Wilsen have fluttered around the US and UK and, magpie-like, collected some choice musical gems from some of the best folk acts around. These have all been brought together and the result is a sound that is both folksy and – in a typically American way – more cinematic.

It would be nice to see the band make more of a feature of their singer’s voice, for Tamsin to really let go and let the audience see what she can do. There were hints of it in the epic ‘Anahita’, which closed the gig like it closes the album, but the crowd was left wanting a bit more. Or perhaps that’s the point?

Emma Barlow

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