The setting was evidently one that Simcock enjoys. 'Folk clubs', she says, ‘offer a real audience. Playing to small appreciative audiences is wonderful and has become the end in itself.' Friday's audience was no exception. Simcock's lyrics on Vanishing Girl (2004) and of her as yet unrecorded songs demonstrate her increasing range of interests, and the two sets for her Cambridge Folk Club audience demonstrated the full range of her song-writing talent; plaintive songs about the dynamics of relationships - The Invisible Man and the Vanishing Girl - featured alongside songs which cast a wry glance at contemporary society, such as the anti-materialist Pink and Silver Sneakers. Also in the mix were angrier songs with a political edge, such as the upbeat Scissors Cuts Paper, her thoughtful tribute song to Joni Mitchell The Sand that Makes the Pearl and a couple of lighthearted singalong songs with simple messages. The subtlety of the lyrics was matched by the subtlety of the arrangements, which supported the purity and clarity of Liz's voice. Jones and Newman's sympathetic backing, often jazz inflected, such as in Walking on Eggshells - with simple riffs and layered lines, effectively set the mood of the songs, whether gentle and contemplative, assertive or upbeat. As if this wasn't enough, Liz played Masterpiece on her own.
The multi-faceted nature of Simcock's music leaves her audiences with a feelgood factor, but gives them food for thought. The musicianship of her 'appreciative and supportive accompanists' in Jones and Newman (Simcock's words) has enhanced her work; a similarly appreciative and supportive audience will welcome her back for her next appearance at the Cambridge Folk Club. I for one am eagerly awaiting the arrival of her next CD.
Writer: Marion Treby, Bookings Secretary, Cambridge Folk Club