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6 October 2001

Oxford, Zodiac

The Waves
Lightbulb Song
How I See It
On Leaving

Uhhh... I'm not sure what to say about the pants.

Review by Ian Chesterton

Touring as part of the second Acoustic Roadworks package, Wolverhampton songstress Carina Round tonight goes some way to redressing the quality balance in the new acoustic stakes. She may have toured with the likes of David Gray in recent months but at times tonight she seems to have more in common with her professed first love, Nirvana.

It doesn’t start particularly promisingly. The first couple of songs tonight are as wispy and tender as you’d expect from a young woman armed with an acoustic guitar and backed by a double bass and a discreet drummer. Oh lord, not another spiritual earth mother who thinks the world begins with Joni Mitchell and ends with Tracy Chapman! There are even worrying hints that Carina wants to be Sheryl Crowe when she shrieks piercingly through the choruses. But quickly she wins us round. Her initially stilted act is soon shaken off and suddenly she’s infused with the spirit of Patti Smith, swapping her acoustic for an electric guitar, cracking her knuckles on the strings as her voice swoops like Polly Harvey if she’d been a sweet young thing from the Black Country and not a haunted siren from Somerset.

It’s all still pretty rustic, but there’s little concession to twee folky anachronism in the bare bones sound of Carina and her band; instead she sounds more like the first proper English folk diva of the 21st Century. From here she’s off touring with Ryan Adams. It’s a fair bet that hers is one voice you’ll be hearing a lot more of soon.

Originally online at the Oxford Music Offline website