Gig review: The Songbook of Unsingable Songs


A COLLABORATION between composer Stephen Deazley and poet Matt Harvey, The Songbook of Unsingable Songs brims with lively wit. In his introduction, Deazley said as much – the singers were having fun, he was having fun, and we the audience were going to have lots of fun. Seconds into the first song it was clear he meant every word.

The six songs in the collection were performed by 250 young singers from Edinburgh's Voice Academy and Glasgow's Voice Factory, accompanied by Music at the Brewhouse, an eclectic mix of musicians from different backgrounds. The concentration of talent within the small ensemble allowed Deazley's challenging score to zip along in a whirlwind of peculiar offbeats and jazz-inflected dances. It was testament to both the composer and the musicians that the young singers could frequently be spied dancing along to the complex rhythms and changing time signatures.

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The triumph of the songbook, however, lies in the lyrics. Harvey's poetry occupies a space somewhere between Roald Dahl and Chuck D. Tongue-twisting half-rhymes narrate tales of surreal encounters which hide a wickedly clever sense of humour.

The triumph of such writing was that it not only kept the audience amused but, by its very nature, brought out the best in the singers. With such great stories to impart, the young performers did not need to be reminded to smile. They were already having too much fun.

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