Ollaberry lass Toni Sidgwick has become a familiar name to many on the Shetland singer-songwriter scene.
The 27-year-old released her EP Now this year and has also supported the award winning acoustic-pop musician Newton Faulkner at Mareel.
After “plonking away” on her brother’s guitar and soaking up the sounds of John Martyn and Ben Howard, Sidgwick has developed her own style of percussive guitar playing – using the body of the instrument like a drum to interject the melodies on the strings.
Sidgwick said she had been threatening to record a new EP for “years and years” and decided to record the five-track CD in Mareel.
The record has a “live in the moment” theme, she said, with songs written prior to a road trip to America, and some following her trip to the States.
New York, Boston, Chicago and Route 66 were all on the list and Sidgwick bought a little travel guitar and busked in Boston, played for folk at campsites and a bar in New Mexico.
Frankie Oh, with its references to corn fields and an open road, has “an American edge to it”, said Sidgwick, a self-confessed Springsteen fan.
It was 2004 when Sidgwick began penning her own material, as a student at Heriot-Watt Univeristy, Edinburgh’s Rose Street and Royal Mile gave her the chance to hone her skills.
She also played gigs at Bannermans and Henry’s Cellar Bar in the capital and continued to gig when returning to Shetland.
Ideas that spark her songwriting usually come quite naturally:“Something just clicks, a few chord progressions and whatever. It usually starts with getting the guitar going and then the lyrics follow from that,” she said.
The percussive element to her playing has also become quite natural too, she added, and was a way of grabbing folk’s attention when playing gigs in Captain Flint’s.
Performing covers, has helped Sidgwick find her own style as well.
The EP is a stripped-down affair with Sidgwick’s guitar and vocal making up the majority of the recording.
Frankie Oh, has a flourish of a guitar solo but apart from that, Sidgwick’s voice and guitar make for an honest and simple record.
Sidgwick launched the CD officially at June’s monthly singers and songwriters’ night at Mareel and admits it’s been a good testing ground for new songs.
“It’s a safe environment to be able to do that, it feels comfortable, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to get slated for doing it, if it turns out rubbish,” she said.
– For more stories from Music Matters see this week’s Shetland Times