The phrase "multi-instrumentalist" can be applied to many of the acts we saw at Solas last year, but the person who pulled it off the best was Jo Mango. I'd seen her play before; her set in the Performance Café at Greenbelt 2010 was my favourite of the festival. At Solas Jo performed only a couple of songs, as part of the "Zoetrope" collective so I've been looking out for an opportunity to see a longer, headline set.
What I found was a bit of a surprise.
Backed by her three-piece band, the music was rich in instrumentation, and suitably fragile for the surroundings. With figures from Tudor England joining the audience, it was impossible to not be transported into the world of the the songs. Curiously, even a pair of songs based on an African fairytale somehow felt as if they belonged in this room.
Jo Mango's almost whispered delivery is similar to that of Kathryn Williams. Both are achingly beautiful, as if each word is being spoken just to you. Jo's most recent release — a double-A side from 2010 — begins with the lyric, "six o'clock in the shh! of the library". With the event starting at half six this was the perfect time and place for the song.
There is talk of an album being released later this year. It should be very special.
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