Live: Wildwood Kin @ The Islington

Wildwood Kin are on the verge of something very big. They’ve already had a single playlisted on BBC Radio 2, supported Ward Thomas on a national tour, played Glastonbury, headlined their first London shows, and signed to Sony. And that’s just in the past three months.

Now, with their debut LP two weeks away and this momentum already behind them, tonight’s likely the last time they play a venue as intimate as The Islington. Which is as it should be: these songs, and the three young women performing them, deserve to be heard by as many people as possible.

Meghann Loney of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

Meghann Loney of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

Like joyous show opener, and the Devon-based group’s first single, Warrior Daughter. A propulsive anthem celebrating the multiplicities of womanhood, it immediately showcases the instinctual bond between Emillie Key, her sister Beth, and their cousin Meghann Loney.

As Emilie’s acoustic guitar lays down a frenetic rhythm, Beth strums her bouzouki, and Meghann pounds out a tribal beat on two drums, their voices intertwine in harmonies so tight they can only be the result of shared genetics and more than 10 years of singing together.

Beth and Meghann (Edyta Krzesak)

Beth and Meghann (Edyta Krzesak)

And that singing is precisely what defines (and unifies) the trio’s work, from Listen’s more traditional folk and Turning Tides’ pastoral vibes, to the moody Steady My Heart (underpinned by a brooding keyboard line from Beth) and ethereal The Author (which belies their shared love of otherworldly bands like Sigur Ros).

Between those extremes their self-penned repertoire includes such equally beautiful highlights as the impassioned Circumstance, about appreciating the journey as much as the destination; the sleek, radio-ready Run; the country-flavoured Hold On, that’s made the band as welcome at Nashville Meets London as The Cambridge Folk Festival; and brand new single Taking A Hold that, with its bluesy electric guitar riff, has seen the group lumped in with the likes of The Lumineers.

Emillie Key of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

Emillie Key of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

Yet, most impressive is the spellbinding encore of The Valley. Accompanied by nothing more than Emilie’s gentle fingerpicking, their angelic three-part harmonies hush the rowdy audience, while throwing a spotlight on the musical talent that’s already won them fans like Jo Whiley and recent collaborator Seth Lakeman.

Meghann Loney of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

Meghann Loney of Wildwood Kin (Edyta Krzesak)

On the basis of tonight’s performance and the crowd response to their music, Wildwood Kin can only expect that fan base to soar – not unlike their own voices.

Wildwood Kin release their debut album, Turning Tides, on 18 August 2017.

Live review of Wildwood Kin @ The Islington by Nils van der Linden.  Concert photography by Edyta K

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