REVIEW – Cutsmith @ The White Bear, Devizes – Sunday 20th October 2019

Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

Andy Fawthrop

Cutsmith derives his moniker from being the Wordsmith from the Cut (canal). Aka Josh Alej Bowes, he describes his music as “imagine Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jamie T, John Martyn and Lauryn Hill jamming by a fire pit on the towpath”. Fittingly perhaps, he had played a gig the previous night at The Barge at Honeystreet, a place with which he was intimately acquainted, having been brought up in the area immediately around the pub.

I’d not seen him before, so thought I’d give him a look-see. Overall, I think I’d describe my experience as a mixed bag. On the positive side there were some soulful, heartfelt lyrics with stories based in personal experience (as you might expect from a singer/ songwriter). There were some nice spoken parts, almost dub-style, over the top of the guitar, which added some welcome texture. I was even minded of a slowed-down Arctic Monkeys at times.

On the less positive side, I felt his set lacked any particularly stand-out songs. Quite a few seemed to merge together at times. The only one I specifically remember was in fact a cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime”, which lacked the song’s normal haunting quality. Cutsmith is not the strongest singer I’ve ever heard, and there was nothing particularly outstanding in his strumming guitar style either. And – it maybe me (don’t judge) – I found his in-between song patter a little grating at times. Whilst friendly and outwardly engaging, some of it felt a little forced. Just my opinion of course, and I realise that he’s probably crossed me off his Christmas card list, but others might find him more to their liking than I did.

Competent and engaging, but not particularly outstanding. But, as they say, you can’t like all of the people all of the time, and Cutsmith wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Future Sunday Sessions at The White Bear:

• 27th October George Wilding
• 10th November Wade Merritt
• 17th November Ian O’Regan
• 15th December Phil Jinder Dewhirst
• 22nd December Vince Bell


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