Country music wasn’t what we were expecting to hear at The Water Rats, in Kings Cross London on a Tuesday night, but that’s what we got and we loved it. British Country artist Sasha McVeigh is on her “Mind the Gap” tour, co-headlining with Sonia Leigh, a country artist from Georgia, USA. The pair have been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, and have joined forces touring the UK, Ireland, and parts of Europe. Sasha’s album, “I Stand Alone” is due for release May 25.
Coming from a small rural city in England, Sasha’s father fostered in her a love of Country music. McVeigh says he used to “dance me around the living room to CMT when I was just 18 months old”, and this passion for music soon translated into making it herself: she began playing keyboard at 10 and writing songs not long after. Sasha says,
“Songwriting is extremely important to me, I cherish every song I write because each one is so personal; they’re like rhyming diary entries.”
Sasha started playing acoustic guitar 3 years ago, and recently added banjo to her growing list of musical instruments.
Opening with “Time of My Life”, from her new album, Sasha sang of a fondly remembered love – there’s touches of sadness, but the overwhelming impression is that it was a happy time. This led into “Stupid Girl”, the song which was chosen by BBC Introducing as “Best of the Best”. It’s a sad song sung from the point of view of someone who’s been there already, and says, “Stupid Girl, why don’t you read between the lines”.
A change in pace next with “No Strings Attached Romance”, a fun, up-tempo song with the line, “What happens in Vegas” demanding the audience response, “Stays in Vegas”. This was followed by a Zac Brown mashup, including some songs co-written by Brown and Sonia Leigh. I really enjoyed this, with the line, “we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, like it or not”. Sasha then led into “Someone to Break My Heart”, the first single to be released from her new album. It’s got a rocky country beat, and reminded us a bit of Reba McIntyre.
Sasha took us a through an acoustic set next while the band had a break. “I Should Have Realised” is from her acoustic album is a closure song written about a former boyfriend who promised her everything…lovely lyrics such as “The time for sadness has long passed by” really stand out.
“You Only Live Once” is Sasha’s favourite song from her new album. Co-written with AJ Masters, who died in January this year, it’s a bucket list song of everything she would like to do before she dies. It’s particularly poignant in light of Masters’ death. Sasha recorded it in his studio, with a fan playing one of his guitars – we were really touched by the line, “Life’s a ticking clock, and life is all you’ve got, to make the most of every day”. Sad, yet a very lovely song. Sasha has included the work-tape for the song on her album, as it actually features Masters, who had been meant to record it properly with her.
Next up was title track, “I Stand Alone”, a song that very nearly didn’t make it on the album as Sasha wrote it when she was 14, and wasn’t sure if it was worth including. Her manager insisted, and we’re glad of this, because it’s a beautifully powerful song and really suits the album. It’s a song about how Sasha was sick of being told what to do, and that nobody should be told to be something that they’re not. In this day of manufactured acts it’s always encouraging to hear of ones who refuse to toe the line, and who are passionate enough to stand alone for what they believe in. Far from being unworthy, “I Stand Alone” is an excellently crafted song, and shows just how talented McVeigh is.
Penultimate song, “First” is another heartbreak song, about a girl who’s been cheated on: she’s been heartbroken, but she’s over it and she’s stronger for it – “I loved you first but now those tears don’t even show”. It was a nice lead in to the last song for the evening, “Mr Brown Eyes”. Sasha had met a waiter in Margaritaville, Nashville, and accidentally met up with him again while she was at Disneyworld with a friend. He jokingly suggested she write a song about the bizarreness of the situation, which she did. It’s a great song about serendipity and what ifs, and the random coincidence of life. It’s the lead track of her new album and was a great end to a really good set.
Sasha McVeigh was accompanied by her band, Harry (bass), Bryn (drums) and Andy on lead guitar. The Mind the Gap tour continues until April 22 in Birmingham. Details are available on Sasha’s website. “I Stand Alone” is now available to preorder.