Since his debut album, Leaves, was released in 2006, Phil King has been a constant figure on the British folk scene, touring to great acclaim.
This past weekend saw him return to Bristol not only to promote his newest album, They Come and They Go, but to christen the newly renovated performance space at the Bristol Folk House in Park Street.
First to take the stage, so new the smell of the paint could still be discerned throughout the building, was Jack Harris, a Welsh-born folk singer whose off-beat stage presence disguised a remarkably skilled guitar player and vocalist, and whose songs had the air of the timeless about them.
Warmly received by the crowd, it was then time for the main act and accompanied by Scott Hammond on the drums and Dave Johnston on bass, King opening proceedings with The Man in the Hat, an easy, smooth tune that perfectly exemplifies his talent as a vocalist. More upbeat was Stronger, a piece not found on either of his albums and composed for a project with the Bristol Old Vic.
Next was On My Knees, a more typical tune for King and probably the best of the night, where he sings plaintively and confessedly “we are all home to demons and I have my share, they come and they go and I have no control when or where” and his voice almost breaks at the higher notes, as if the emotion contained within the song threatens its melody. Things ended on a fun note however, with the raucous, country music influenced, Give Me Some More.
The Bristol Folk House’s improved performance area has not only given artists such as Jack Harris and Phil King room to shine, but also the room for the audience to appreciate them. Especially if they are as good as they were on Friday night.