Review: Kacy & Clayton and The Deep Dark Woods, The Crescent, York, May 11

A POWERFUL double header full of characters. These two Canadian bands operated as one, with The Deep Dark Wood’s frontman Ryan Boldt playing bass for the openers, who then re-appeared as part of an expanded line up for the main act.

The two bands go back a long way, and Boldt was a catalyst to getting Kacy & Clayton’s professional career started. Growing up as ranch cousins just north of the Montana border, Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum drank deep from traditional music. Clayton was formally a country boy star and reprised that role with a terrific Merle Haggard song.

On record, Kacy & Clayton are intoxicating; a stunning blend of period rhythms and an aching, winning voice. The live sound was less sympathetic and both bands were road weary. Looking and playing guitar like The Band’s Robbie Robertson, Clayton was musicality incarnate. "The old is new again," he said at one point, perfectly capturing the revitalising effect of their retro tunes.

Subdued songbird Anderson said n’er a word to the audience, but still sounded beautiful. The closest comparison to this pair is perhaps Davy Graham and the luminous Tia Blake, but the expanded four-piece can also convincingly carry off Clarence White-era Byrds and prime Fairport Convention. Self-penned, their own material does far more than plunder their influences, with The World Has Seven Wonders the closing highlight.

The Deep Dark Wood’s music is imbued with feeling. While their material is less striking than their compatriots, they are the masters of catching and sustaining a mood. At their best when they stretched out, they made every compelling note count. Taking a ragged ride through their Yarrow album, Ryan Boldt was a striking front man. With both bands so masterfully creating the best kind of retro sounds, and with emotion-laden tunes, this was a memorable night with better yet to come.

Paul Rhodes