Music review: Rachel Sermanni and Rose Cousins, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow

THE Glasgow Americana Festival, one of the city’s finest boutique offerings, opened on Wednesday night with Canadian singer/songwriter Rose Cousins wryly urging the audience to “keep it down” in the face of their rapt attention to her support set.

Rachel Sermanni
Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni/Rose Cousins, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow ***

Her smart but straightforward songs on guitar and piano resonated in the pristine acoustic of St Andrews in the Square – what a loss to the city if this beautiful venue closes, as it is currently slated to do, in early 2020.

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Where Cousins was a new discovery for the loyal festival audience, headliner Rachel Sermanni was the family friend who had turned up with an equally welcome entourage of backing musician pals.

Berlin-based bassist James Banner and pianist Declan Forde added a jazzy magnetism to her gossamer finger-picking folk pop mysticism, though backing vocal trio Little Acres slightly smoothed out the quirks in Sermanni’s soft, seductive singing, intuitive phrasing and unexpected turns of melody.

Her latest material was inspired by her time working in a café at a Buddhist monastery, where she contemplated taking orders of a more spiritual kind. The blithe frolic of Typical Homegirl was enhanced with harmonies from Australian guests The Maes, while she formed another temporary vocal trio with Finn Anderson and Pedro Cameron, aka Man of the Minch.

Sociable as this was, Sermanni proved herself to just be as potent flying solo with a final romantic reverie as when bolstered by everyone on stage - and in the room – for a massed encore rendition of Lay My Heart. - Fiona Shepherd