Emily Smith's Songs for Christmas at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh was one of those warm and friendly evenings with a mixture of new Christmas/Winter songs, traditional Christmas Carols and Sacred Music that you expect at Christmas time.
Music on stage this evening was brought to us by Emily Smith and her band Jamie McClennan (guitar, fiddle and vocals), Anna Massie (guitar, fiddle & vocals), Ross Hamilton (bass and vocals) plus a surprise special guest (more on this person later).
Emily has one of those very clear and tonally classic sounding voices, and opening songs “While Roving On A Winter's Night” and “Find Hope” were perfect to display that talent , and a welcome indicator of what was to follow in this and the next set.
It’s Christmas time (well Advent at the moment actually), but you need a few classic Christmas carols in the set for any Christmas show, and “Silent Night” and “God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen” certainly fitted the requirements – particularly when given the expressive sounds of Emily’s vocals and the band’s classic “old world” instrumental sounds on them.
A lot of the material in this two set show comes from Emily’s “new” album “Songs For Christmas” – more details on that available from http://emilysmith.org/
This was not though just songs from the new album, there were some real surprises in here such as a great version of Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going”
Our second set mystery guest was none other than Barbara Dickson – known of course to pretty much everyone in the audience I think. I was not too sure of giving this little surprise away in this review in case Barbara was making more “surprise appearances” on Emily’s tour, but as the surprise guest is out on Emily’s on Facebook page, there is no secret to keep.
Barbara Dickson gave us a slightly different tone musically with two very old sacred songs “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Solace” and “Creator of The Stars of Night”. As someone who loves the sounds of “Sacred Music” from this period, these two were a nice surprise to the evening.
Just as important to the evening as the music though was that warm and friendly connection that Emily and everyone on stage had with the audience.
Emily Smith has been touring her Christmas show around her native Dumfries and Galloway for the past five years or so, and this was its first visit to Edinburgh. Hopefully, the show will return next year and become a firm part of Christmas at The Queen’s Hall.
Review by Tom King