The May Dolls at the Morgan Inn, Malvern - 14.01.12

I'm sometimes a little bit late setting off out gigging - and I yet again paid the price as I missed a sparkling set at the very music-friendly Morgan Inn in Barnards Green, Malvern from Thistle And Thorn AKA Rebecca Leach and Tom Crossley-Thorn. I'd also missed their live set at our Hereford studios which we broadcast in December - having been tasked with schmoozing duities on the day - I've replayed it back a couple of times since and without doubt the Bevere pair - who linked up at Bath University are an outfit to keep a very careful lookout for in the year to come.

I'd belatedly belted down the A449 though to catch a long-overdue set from Malvern man-of-many-outfits Tyler Massey's latest project - which is his pairing with the perfect-pitch vocals of Becca Roberts in May Dolls.

I was expecting more of the variations on the Americana-bluegrass sound that's characterised most of Tyler's associations with the likes of Vo Fletcher, Laura Broad and his own band The Pull. But after discounting all the other possibilities I have to say that May Dolls is essentially a pretty pure through-and-through Country and Western outfit!

I'm no expert on either of these musical forms - the May Dolls sound is very much of the Emmylou Harris/Gram Parsons type of more thoughtful ballads with probably a fair nod towards the Road-To-Damascus Elvis Costello thrown into the mix - and if you like that sound then you'll probably go a beanload for their original numbers like Everything Fades, Secret Thoughts and Puppet On A String (no not that one) as they're all delivered in superb quality with Tyler supplying essentially backing vocals and guitar runs to Becca's stunning lead singing and rhythm guitar. But I could really have done without the Yee-hahs at the end of many of the numbers - oh please!

Andy O'Hare

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