Review: Carson McHone, The Basement, City Screen, York, February 4

CATCHING a star on the rise is a very satisfying experience. The Basement has developed a great reputation as a place to see artists early in their careers, and so it proved on Monday.

Despite being the least rock'n'roll night of the year (a cold Monday in early February; music dies at this time every year), and without the comfort blanket of a band, Carson McHone was comfortable and warm on stage.

The country singer is a hotly tipped prospect on the Austin, Texas music scene and is seeking to break out with her latest album Carousel. While the album is mostly retreads of earlier albums, it serves as a full-bodied statement of intent.

Fresh from an unplanned stay in a castle, McHone talked about studying music in bars and her parents’ honky-tonk saloon, The White Horse. Her music was full of really interesting tempo changes and shifts in mood. Her years of performing have also sharpened her killer way of delivering certain lines, half speaking and drawing out the lyrics.

Maybe They Are Just Really Good Friends hits home, and McHone writes from the heart. A new song, Hawks Do Not Share, was both literary and country straight talking. The lead-off track from Carousel, Sad, deliberately plays with the genre and was a standout.

Not all her songs have the same emotional heft; I Need Drugs felt heavy handed, while I Trim The Rose was generic. McHone promised to return in May with her band, a songwriter clearly going places.

Paul Rhodes