Took advan­tage of a rare balmy evening this sum­mer in Lon­don to mosey down to the Booga­loo near High­gate for an evening of musi­cal fusion in a rather dif­fer­ent style. Tonight’s list­ing reads: ‘Bre­ton Girl, whose roman­tic style is drawn from Celtic, Medieval and Indi­an music’. The Bre­ton Girl in ques­tion is singer-song­writer Wendy Lewis, elfin, bare­foot, with just a touch of ear­ly brit-folk god­dess Mad­die Prior.

The band are rushed unex­pect­ed­ly onto the stage ahead of the sup­port acts, as they are being filmed tonight and the film­mak­ers have to leave ear­ly. Com­po­sure is swift­ly restored, and from the slow, steady open­ing notes of Born to Feel, Wendy’s voice cap­ti­vates – more pow­er­ful than I had imag­ined, with an abil­i­ty to be strong yet frag­ile. How­ev­er Bre­ton Girl does­n’t intend to play safe and stick to a well-worn for­mat. Instead, pro­duc­er Gra­ham Ingram is aim­ing to push the bound­aries of folk, and togeth­er with Wendy, who stud­ied Indi­an music for four years, weaves togeth­er the sitar, tabla, and even a 12-strong choir over a base of tra­di­tion­al folk songs. But the demands of a small stage tonight mean things are more inti­mate and pared-down, so there’s just Gra­ham on bass and accom­pa­ny­ing vocals, Cliff Charles on gui­tar, and the drone of the elec­tron­ic tam­bu­ra box.

A stand-out num­ber is Bre­ton Girl’s treat­ment of tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish song The Oak and The Ash with its haunt­ing and wist­ful lyrics, while under­neath lurks the low jan­gle and thrum of the tam­bu­ra. At the end of the evening with film­ing over, they return to the stage for a more relaxed and free-flow­ing sec­ond half of their set.

It’s ear­ly days for Bre­ton Girl, an orig­i­nal and some­what ground­break­ing com­bi­na­tion, and Wendy pos­sess­es a fresh­ness and hon­esty. Get­ting out there and hon­ing their stage pre­sen­ta­tion is now the next step on the road. They have their sights set on the fes­ti­val cir­cuit and I can see it happening.

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