Antipodean excellence was to the fore on Saturday night at the String Jam Club in Selkirk, thanks to two superlative singer/songwriters.
Headlining the bill was Jenny “rhymes with piddle, starts with b” Biddle, whose on-point vocals, jaw-dropping guitar work and thoughtful lyrics come together to present the full package.
With her background in busking – she won the Melbourne busker of the year award no less than three times – there’s no surprise that covers form part of her reptoire, but she adds her own flavour to each one – Hallelujah and Billie Jean both being cases in point.
However, it’s when she sings her own songs that the real Jenny Biddle comes to the fore.
Unabashedly and heart-warmingly frank about the trials and tribulations that brought her to her present circumstances, her lyrics, and often hilarious asides between the songs, takes the listener on a path from kangaroo poo (admittedly, one of her earliest songs) through anxiety and depression, to the struggle with the country of her birth to accept gay marriage, to the happiness and joy she has found with her wife Gwen in the Borders.
Some of her stories have a political point, but in no way do they push any political agenda. They are, simply and truly, from the heart.
It’s a real juggernaut of a journey, yet sweet and, above all, melodic.
Supporting Jenny on her first headliner appearance at the County Hotel was fellow Australian Prita Grealy, and they proved the perfect pairing.
Prita’s gritty (perhaps whisky induced!) voice lends itself brilliantly to her style of performance.
Just when you think a certain part of a song was so good you could listen to it again, all of a sudden you are. She uses a very impressive loop pedal gadget so that by the end of the song, she is singing it several times in several ways, including beatbox techniques.
And when the two came together at the end of the show to sing Bruce Sprinsteen’s I’m on Fire, it was truly magical.
It may have been her first headline gig here, but going by the way Jenny left the packed audience wanting more, it’s pretty certain it won’t be her last.