Charlie Cunningham – A rich & delicate marriage of cultures

English singer-songwriter Charlie Cunningham started his two-week European tour last night at Rockhal’s Floor, a stage for the up and coming acts of today.

With the release of his third EP “Heights” in as many years, Cunningham is certainly riding a wave of momentum at the moment, with support coming from major radio and blogs. Having toured Europe already with the likes of King Creosote, Mighty Oakes and more recently Rodriguez, which included a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, I think it’s safe to say he has conquered any stage fright he had at the very early stages of his career.

First up was local act Josh Oudendijk who has been enjoying some momentum of his own lately after his idea to write a song for Celine Dion was picked up by local media, resulting in Josh being invited to sing on TV for Live Planet People on RTL. It was a modest crowd that welcomed the young musician but that didn’t hamper him, his confidence and stage chat won them over immediately and put everyone at ease. The clarity in his vocals complimented his sharp acoustic folk sound, whilst he leaned towards a bluesier groove once he switched to electric guitar. He even managed to get crowd participation going as he handed out egg shakers to the audience to keep the beat through the chorus of his final track “Nylon”. Oudendijk is certainly one to keep your eye on in the future.

Opening with the title track off his debut EP “Outside Things” Cunningham’s Spanish influence in his music was evident from the first pick of the guitar. The flamenco flair of his guitar style instantly sets Cunningham apart from the raft of solo singer-songwriters out there. And with the crowd all sitting and even lying on the floor, the evening took on an intimate singer-songwriter feel with a hushed appreciative silence throughout.

His two years in Seville where he perfected his fingerpicking and guitar percussion was clearly time well spent. There is a minimalist feel to his sound that allows for the technique to shine through without overpowering the melody, giving it the space to take hold and drive the songs.

With each release you can hear the subtle changes in his style and layering of his sound which is adding to the overall aura. The title track “Breather” from his second EP once again saw him lightly strum and slap the strings, whilst the vocals painted the picture.

He even serenaded us with a more traditional Spanish track before working in “Plans”, showing us the progression in which his music has taken over the years. Cunningham has taken the elements from the two cultures and married them together to create his own niche which created an intriguing and rewarding musical journey for all.

It’s interesting that the more traditional folk structure of “Lights Off” clearly has a familiarity which resonates with the audience as it’s his biggest hit to date and gets the camera phones out from the audience.

With his new EP “Heights” out on April 8 and his debut album out later this year, there will be plenty of new material coming soon for his fans to enjoy. What will be the most rewarding though will be hearing how his sound continues to open and evolve over this time. Hopefully by the time he is touring the album venues this size will be full.

23/2/16 @ Rockhal – Floor

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