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Roving Reviewer: The Four Leaf Sessions

October 25, 2012

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Not knowing quite what to expect whilst strolling down Northcote’s Mitchell Street hill, a swift anticipation comes over me as I begin to count each house number all the way to the inviting, open side gate to the backyard of a Northcote musician’s home.

I’m greeted with a picnic-style set up; people are seated on blankets, with snacks abundant (including fruit for the diet-conscious such as myself) and of course, a healthy supply of wine!

A generous, attentive and intimate crowd awaits Al Parkinson. A simple set up with vocals & acoustic guitar running through one amplifier, Miss Parkinson steps to the mic and prefaces the first song with the fact that she “…just loves pashin'”.

Simply constructed, with an old-worldly blues feel keeps a bop in the hips, while her soulful, somewhat jazz-crackle voice bypasses your aural nerves and hits you straight in the chest – right where you want it to. You may have heard many of the topics Al sings about before, but you have never heard them delivered in this deep, Janis Joplin-cum-Nina Simone voice paired with Al’s delivery: calculated carefulness.

Half way through song #5, Al exclaims “Marge! Marge!” because, yes – the rains were here! The party swiftly retreated undercover to a quasi-gazebo and the contingency plan swung into immediate action.

The highlight of Parkinson’s set was undoubtedly her ode to a stalker, entitled “Eye on You”; but there’s a hell of a lot more to this broad than meets the eye, and it’s certainly only experienced by the keen music appreciator’s ear.

Four Leaf Sessions founder Emi Day then takes centre stage. For those that have not yet seen Emi, I am quick to inform them that they’re in for a treat.

The voice of an angel seeps forth from Emi’s small frame, through the speakers, to the ears of avid, silent listeners.

You could hear a pin drop during Emi’s performance, as huddled beneath the tin roof gazebo, or the intermittent shelter of surrounding trees, the rain fails to dampen the spirits of any of the 30 or so attendees.

Emi drives her way through a set filled with emotionally-charged and carefully written tunes. Songs which draw upon your very heart and mind, twist and twirl them a few times in a way which you can’t help but relate to every word she utters.

I can’t remember an artist in recent times which pounds at the very notion of singing directly TO the listener; an emotive impass which is almost haunting. She possesses the need inside us all – to be heard. To our broken souls, Emi Day is an outlet.

But it is not the music which commands the highlight of this review. It is the concept. The concept that an artist who knows what it’s like in today’s local music minefield to struggle, to play to empty rooms, to have to pay more to the sound engineer or the venue than you get paid to play the gig. The idea that an artist with all this in the back of their mind is able to put on a show. And I really mean PUT ON A SHOW.

She invites us into her private property, for the aid of the musicians first and foremost. This is a gig meant solely for the deepest of souls, the most creative of hearts and those who just love seeing a great performance and allow themselves to be lost, for just a couple of hours on a Sunday night. Lost in the purest and most intimate form that music can be shared in.

For that, I thank the Four Leaf Sessions for existing, and I implore you all to take it upon yourselves to involve yourself in such a wonderful event.

5/5 pots of greatness

Melting Pot’s Roving Reviewer rocks up unannounced – where will he be next? Find out by checking back in each week to find out about some of the other brilliant acts skating around this magnificent musical city of ours.

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.

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