A FEMALE singer-songwriter from Ollaberry recently released her debut solo album, featuring 10 all-acoustic tracks.
Antonia Sidgwick, 21, who is in the final year of a degree in sports science and psychology at the University of Edinburgh, recorded Baliamo – which was mixed and mastered by Andrew Clubb – this summer at Weathersta Studios in Brae.
Having taught herself how to play guitar a few years ago, she has honed her performance skills by busking on the streets of the capital and describes the music on the record as “all acoustic and rough around the edges, born from a love of all things musical”.
The title of the record, meaning “let’s dance”, was a reference to a song by Chris Rea which reminded her of her late grandfather, who Antonia described as a particular inspiration in giving her the encouragement to pursue music.
He was one of the first people to hear her music and one of her favourite tracks on the album is I Salute You, which she wrote about him.
“He passed away a couple of years ago,” Antonia said. “He” said he would be my manager, and really brought the confidence to keep playing.”
Everything you hear on Baliamo was laid down by Antonia on an acoustic guitar with two tracks of vocals and among the other songs featured on the album which she picks out for special mention are A Thousand Sons and Dancing Shoes, the latter which is “the most poppy number” used to close most of her live appearances.
Favourites among a broad musical palette include Bruce Springsteen (she started out playing with “really simple chords; the amount you can bring together musically from that is amazing”), Pink Floyd and Counting Crows, while she describes her vocals as “something quite soft but also powerful” and lists Sarah McLachlan as one of many key influences.
“Singing was never really my strong point to begin with, I’ve just had to work on it – hopefully it’s alright now,” she said.
Antonia described busking as a formative experience in her development as a performer.
“You really have to try and perform and play, try and make people stop and listen. That’s been such an amazing experience; the feedback has been really, really good.”
Last Friday saw her take a live bow in Shetland, playing a one-hour support slot for local Levellers tribute band The Revellers – with whom she is good friends – in Captain Flint’s, an experience she enjoyed hugely.
“It seemed to go really well,” she said. “[It’s] the first proper gig I’ve played in Shetland, quite a few in Edinburgh, one in Glasgow, [but] the Shetland crowd probably has to win.”