Folk North West Magazine Review of Friday Night Train Home
North London based singer/songwriter cites a number of influences on her music from Christine Collister to Bob Dylan via Billy Bragg, Richard Thompson, Nancy Griffith and Eddi Reader. Whilst some of these influences can be seen, Liz is a talent in very much her own right. This is her fourth album and all songs are composed by her. She is joined by her backing band, namely Dave Ellis on guitar, mandolin and banjo. Boo Howard plays bass with both providing backing vocals. Harry Bogdanovs plays piano on the first track. There are 12 tracks, the title track, ‘Friday Night Train’ being the first. The moment it starts you are rewarded with fine instrumentation and Liz’s warm voice singing a soulful song. She is blessed with a voice that is charged full of emotion, direct and melodic. A song called ‘Harry’s Eyes’ follows. A song about a loyal friend who comes to life in the song as a trusted role model for a woman’s partner. It’s something she has to come to terms with as the friend, Harry, is nothing less than idolised by her partner. It is a clever song that alludes to tensions that could ensue between the threesome but respect for Harry comes through and the message is, If he’s a friend of yours he’s a friend of mine!
Underlying much of her music is a sense of peacefulness and understanding wrought from bitter experience. She sings of loss, of unrequited love and of fools too full of themselves to see what’s best….and yet her message is one of acceptance.
Liz is on the radar in the North West as she played Lymm Festival in June this year. On the basis of what I have heard on this album, I am sorry I missed her.
Liz also injects humour in her writing. ‘The Bouzouki And The W3’ this is a song about purchasing a Bouzouki, probably an actual event, then deciding to take it to a luthier for a string set up and doing the unthinkable thing, leaving it on the bus in London ! The song conveys the emotion of one’s stupidity and the huge sense of loss but of course, all the efforts necessary to try and retrieve the instrument. Not for me to write about the outcome but again, a song well written. ‘The Knitting Song (K1P1K2 tog)’ another amusing song put me in mind of Victoria Wood. The song is delivered at an upbeat pace and some nice banjo picking from Dave Ellis.
There are many fine tracks. The album has been well produced and will suit contemporary music enthusiasts who appreciate intelligent song writing and some fine guitar and bouzouki playing from Liz. I should also mention some of the fine voice harmonies that are present on many of the songs. I had not heard her work before but commend her undoubted talent. I loved it.
The Croydon Citizen Liz Simcock plays the Croydon Folk Club, Monday 29th February
My husband Steve and I went to the Croydon Folk Club on Monday 29th February to see singer/songwriter Liz Simcock. We had seen her before as part of a duo with Clive Gregson, another singer/songwriter who had done a solo gig at Croydon and who I had also reviewed for the Croydon Citizen.
In 1999 Liz featured on the Playpen Album of New Acoustic Music alongside well known performers Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Kathryn Williams. Since then she has trodden an independent path, gaining a growing reputation as a performer and songwriter. Her main role models have been Clive Gregson, Richard Thompson and Joni Mitchell. Her fourth album, Friday Night Train Home, was released in November 2013.
She accompanied herself mainly with guitar or bouzouki. Her first song, ‘The Long Haul’, is a song about everything going wrong. How we can all relate to that! ‘City Girl’ is about living in London, being tired of the pace and wanting to go away to somewhere where one can breathe in the air of a different world. I particularly liked ‘Harry’s Eyes’, about the frustration of dealing with someone who only sees the world through another person’s eyes and not appearing to have opinions of their own.
Some songs were serious and some were sad. ‘The Bouzouki And The W3′ is hilarious. She had bought a bouzouki and managed to leave it on the W3 bus. Somehow it took three days for it to come back to her. Had the driver taken it home and tried to play it? After all, she had found that the strings were just too high to suit her style. Another amusing one was ‘The Knitting Song’, where she tells us to forget our worries and pick up a pair of knitting needles. That I cannot relate to, as I have never wanted to knit anything. One of my favourites was ‘Sneakers’: it’s about wanting to buy herself a pair of pink and silver ones. I always wear colourful ones too!
A sad one was the one about a boyfriend who had broken her heart. The lights in her world had gone out and it was a long crawl back. I could feel the pain! ‘Blow Me Home’ is also sad. She had gone away, as she needed to be alone and now she is waiting for the wind to blow her home. ‘Valentine’s Day’ is a song about a relationship that has gone heavily down the tubes.
At the end we all demanded an encore, so she sang ‘Annie Laurie’, an old Scottish song based on a poem by Wiliam Douglas and which is also known as ‘Maxwelton Braes’.
Liz is a really lovely lady. We have been listening to her latest CD again and again. Hopefully she’ll be back soon!
Anne Giles 24th March 2016
Kent Online: The Liz Simcock Trio: Black Robin, Kingston near Canterbury
Folk in the Barn’s first concert of 2014 saw an even cosier event at the Black Robin in Kingston. These events bring the lesser known artist to a small venue when no one is more than a few yards from the performer giving a really intimate feel to the concert, in this case The Liz Simcock Trio.
Liz is a fantastic singer songwriter. Sometimes she performs solo but this evening she was joined by the backing band of her dreams, namely Dave Ellis on guitar and Boo Howard on bass. The instrumentation and vocal harmonies from these three talented musicians was outstanding!
Liz is a consummate songwriter who manages to not only write serious pieces about every day life like the title track from her latest Friday Night Train Home album; City Girl about a girl bought up in the city fascinated by the wide open skies of remote Scotland; or Another Year which reflects on the loss of the joy of Christmas and New Year celebrations as one grows older.
But she also writes some great comic numbers like Pink and Silver Sneakers and The Knitting Song.
As you expect with a Folk in The Barn event there was some audience participation, and it was a wonderful concert. If you see Liz Simcock or The Liz Simcock Trio advertised near you don’t miss it – it’s well worth the time and money! Stephen Palmer Jan 2014.
Mardles Magazine Liz Simcock – Friday Night Train Home “Liz Simcock is a singer songwriter who has played a series of gigs all over East Anglia and beyond over the past few years. If you have seeen her you will probably need little encouragement to buy this, her latest CD. She takes a wide range of subjects and treats them with sensitivity and no mean musical skill. There are not many songwriters who would willingly tackle the loss of a bouzouki on a bus, as in The Bouzouki & The W3 or knitting as in The Knitting Song (K1P1K2tog), which she notes is not a proper knitting pattern. As an album it reminded me of Carole King’s Tapestry and although it is unlikely to get similar exposure, it deserves to be heard by a wide audience – radio producers please note. The songs are occasionally personal, observational and often contain an element of humour. They display lyrical and musical ability of a high order without the navel gazing sometimes associated with the singer-songwriter genre. The backing by Liz on guitar and bouzouki; Dave Ellis on guitar, banjo, percussion, keyboards and backing vocals; Boo Howard on bass, guitar and backing vocals and Harry Bogdanov on piano complement the songs perfectly. The vocals by Liz speak for themselves. A CD that has acheieved what it set out to do and much more.” Andrew Paige – March 2014
Folking.com Liz Simcock – Friday Night Train Home “Liz Simcock is a singer/ songwriter from the Southeast who has been performing for the last 14 or so years and Friday Night Train Home is her fourth album. The 12 songs on the album are all written by Liz and between her, Dave Ellis on guitar and Boo Howard on bass the trio also provide vocals and also play bouzouki, mandolin, banjo, keyboards, bass and percussion.
Liz’s rich, dark and warm voice dominates the songs which are often written in an autobiographical style. Beautiful crafted arrangements support simple melodies but the lyrics are often far from simple covering a wide gamut of subjects from wistful looking back over time, regrets over disintegrating relationships and observations of some of life’s good things with humorous songs recalling losing an instrument on a bus and the fascination of knitting!
The sounds produced may be stripped back and delicate to enhance the vulnerable emotions expressed on tracks like ‘Blow Me Home’ and ‘By The Way’ but can then slip into a jazzy blues style in ‘The Bouzouki And The W3′ or a bouncy poppy sound for ‘Harry’s Eyes’. From the groovy bass line in ‘The Bouzouki’ to the dancing banjo in ‘To Dance Like You Do’ to the guitar riff of the opening track the musicianship demonstrated is superb.
Friday Night Train Home is a gentle, relaxing album taking you on a introspective journey through life, via subtle melodies and poetic lyrics, and transporting you for a while into a safe and comfortable place where you can allow yourself to be vulnerable for just a while.” Janet M Roe
Northern Sky Album Review: Liz Simcock – Friday Night Train Home 25th Nov 2013. “Friday Night Train Home features a dozen new songs from the pen of singer/songwriter Liz Simcock, whose natural flair for storytelling dominates this, her fourth album to date. There’s no self-indulgent navel gazing in Liz’s approach to song writing, rather a bright-eyed observational peek at the world around her, a world inhabited by engaging characters and everyday situations. There’s Harry for instance in Harry’s Eyes, who quite rightly believes amongst other things, that Al Pacino’s current movies aren’t a patch on the old ones. We all have a friend like Harry and whilst we listen, we are immediately on the way to identifying our own.
Produced by Dave Ellis, who also plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, percussion and piano, the album also includes Boo Howard on bass and Harry Bogdanovs on piano, each providing the songs with the sort of embellishment they rightly deserve.” Allan Wilkinson Northern Sky
Rock Society Magazine Nov Dec 2013 “It’s approaching fifteen years since English singer/songwriter Liz Simcock made her recording debut and, as a new name to this reviewer, I find myself wondering just what I’ve missed if this album is a reflection of her career. Quite simply this album is exquisite and ticks all the relevant boxes.” SW
The acoustic musicianship is outstanding, her lyrical skills offer not only moments of great personal reflection but also a wry, twinkle in the eye sense of humour whilst her voice is stunningly beautiful, enhanced by perfect phrasing and crystal clear diction.
As a piece of work it probably falls into the Acoustic Folk genre but there is much more to it than that, in fact I’ drawn to the excellent English rose Catherine Howe for comparions, especially in songs such as Harry’s Eyes. Now I’m off to check out her back catalogue. Totally wonderful!”
Folk Words (October 17, 2013): ‘Friday Night Train Home’ from Liz Simcock – sheer simplicity and precise poise. Sometimes an unnervingly pure piece of music reaches out to a part of you, equally there can be voices that touch you with their delivery, and then again, sometimes the poignancy of a particular lyric hits a similar spot. Well, I can tell you that ‘Friday Night Train Home’ from Liz Simcock scores high on all counts.
The sheer simplicity and precise poise of this album takes you right to the heart of her songwriting – thoughtful and thought-provoking, forged with a cutting edge that can turn easily from humour, through pointed narrative to tear jerking echoes. Each song offers up a slice of life, some sad, some funny and all with a message that’s redolent of reality that’s lived by us all, and delivered by a voice that brings them alive. Read more..
Readifolk. September 2010 In a World Of All The Loveliness, what features would you hold dearest? This evening we were visited by much loveliness Liz Simcock, with her accompanist Warwick Jones, plus support from our own Gary Edwards. I’m not just saying this because when Liz arrived she chose to sit next to me, or because she laughed at one of my jokes. I was a bit worried at first, when I saw the microphones and pluggedin guitars we seldom see amplification at Readifolk, not because we have a policy about it, but because we meet in a small room, and because if you pay attention, unamplified guitars and voices sound fine. But actually, from where I was sittting, their system seemed almost invisible, and didn’t distract from their performance at all. When Liz and Warwick played to us, all was transformed, and loveliness prevailed. It was like crystalised air. The audience were charmed by them. Liz isn’t really a folk singer, and no traditional stuff was to be heard this evening, but her own clever songs fit in well to a format that suits many folk clubs. Neither of them are simply strummers, but have worked out some beautifully balanced counterpoints on their guitars. If you could bottle loveliness, this evening would have been a good wellspring; you’d make a fortune, and all the world’s miseries would be solved. Until someone manages it, a Liz Simcock gig should suffice. Stewart
Acoustic Kitchen February 2010 She came, she saw, she conquered!!! Liz Simcock was an absolute joy to listen to at the Riverside Restaurant last Friday 5th February. Her stage persona is very engaging and honest, though remaining thoroughly professional at all times. A rare treat in this day of egocentric wanabees, Liz was a breath of fresh air. Liz came armed with her uniquely crafted songs – taking us, and Letisha Boccemski, effortlessly to the Cromer pier in our Pink and Silver Sneakers. With Warwick Jones on guitar and vocals and Ian Newman on bass, Liz produced 2 sets of pure magic that I hope can be repeated in the near future…. Local band, Too man whickers, opened the evening with some foot stompers that provided just the right ambience for the night.
Another banquet of fine music to a SOLD OUT house!!! Peter Kitchen
Cambridge Folk Club July 2006 Moving Tone “On 14 July singer-songwriter Liz Simcock continued her well-established association with the Cambridge Folk Club by making a welcome return appearance, accompanied by Warwick Jones (guitar) and Ian Newman (bass). The appreciative audience were treated to two excellent sets of Liz’s songs from her CDs Seven Sisters Road (2001) and Vanishing Girl (2004); Liz also performed some as yet unrecorded material, songs which will be featured on her next album – continuing evidence of the high standards Liz sets herself. She says, ‘It takes me ages to decide on lyrics. I’d rather write a few really good songs than a lot of bad ones.’
The setting was evidently one that Simcock enjoys. ‘Folk clubs’, she says, ‘offer a real audience. Playing to small appreciative audiences is wonderful and has become the end in itself.’ Friday’s audience was no exception. Simcock’s lyrics on Vanishing Girl (2004) and of her as yet unrecorded songs demonstrate her increasing range of interests, and the two sets for her Cambridge Folk Club audience demonstrated the full range of her song-writing talent; plaintive songs about the dynamics of relationships – The Invisible Man and the Vanishing Girl– featured alongside songs which cast a wry glance at contemporary society, such as the anti-materialist Pink and Silver Sneakers. Also in the mix were angrier songs with a political edge, such as the upbeat Scissors Cuts Paper, her thoughtful tribute song to Joni Mitchell The Sand that Makes the Pearl and a couple of lighthearted singalong songs with simple messages. The subtlety of the lyrics was matched by the subtlety of the arrangements, which supported the purity and clarity of Liz’s voice. Jones and Newman’s sympathetic backing, often jazz inflected, such as in Walking on Eggshells – with simple riffs and layered lines, effectively set the mood of the songs, whether gentle and contemplative, assertive or upbeat. As if this wasn’t enough, Liz played Masterpiece on her own.
The multi-faceted nature of Simcock’s music leaves her audiences with a feelgood factor, but gives them food for thought. The musicianship of her ‘appreciative and supportive accompanists’ in Jones and Newman (Simcock’s words) has enhanced her work; a similarly appreciative and supportive audience will welcome her back for her next appearance at the Cambridge Folk Club. I for one am eagerly awaiting the arrival of her next CD.” Marion Treby
The Ravenswood supporting Pete Atkin July 2006 “Opening the show was a gorgeous singer called Liz Simcock, who I hadn’t seen live before. A songwriter of considerable charm and ability, Liz is the first musician to be signed to Angelic Music (www.angelicmusic.co.uk) a new specialist label for female singer songwriters. Set up in response to the homogeneity of the pop industry and backed by Katie Melua, the label seeks out artists with talent and individuality, rather than those who fit the build of a stereotypical pop princess. Liz showed why she’s been chosen for the label, performing a gorgeous and varied set, including songs of loss and unrequited love among more upbeat numbers. Her voice and melodies are sweet without being cloying and her tunes have a habit of sticking in your mind afterwards. Favourites for me were Masterpiece and a song about the life of Joni Mitchell, The Sand That makes the Pearl. This was a wonderful evening’s entertainment and a treat for anyone looking to turn off the mobile phones and enjoy the ‘real thing'” Bob Preece Acoustic Sussex and the Mid Sussex Times
ArtsAcoustic: “A fantastic performance…in the Cafe Bar. Liz kicked off first and it was an absolute pleasure to listen to her sing, and with every one hanging on to her every word, she certainly knows how to captivate an audience.” Oct 04
Clive Gregson: “Liz Simcock did a great job opening for me at Hitchin. She has a fine album available so check it out”.
Hitchin Folk Club: “Liz is a great songwriter and gorgeous singer with a relaxed and very endearing stage presence. We have seen her grow from strength to strength as a performer, and now stand easily alongside any of the female singer/songwriters working on the acoustic/folk music scene”.
Acoustic Routes: “Liz Simcock is one of the finest singer/songwriters around. With a strong, expressive voice and high quality songs her music is fresh, original and very entertaining”
Wears the Trousers “Simcock has passed the last few years plying her trade around the country’s folk club circuit, ably assisted by regular cohorts Ian Newman and Warwick Jones on bass and guitar, both of whom appear here along with drummer Pete Abernathy. The musical maturity that comes from entertaining such a notoriously difficult-to-please audience is certainly evident on the recording. But Simcock is not some twiddly, finger-in-the-ear folkster — her palette is much broader than that. Sure, there are winsome acoustic-based numbers and Joni Mitchell is a notable influence — The Sand That Makes The Pearl is a gently personal tribute to the great lady, inspired by the 2003 TV documentary ‘Woman Of Heart & Mind’. Even the lyrics are populated with a patchwork of Mitchell’s thoughts and quotations, adding an additionally moving and poignant dimension to the song. On other songs, Simcock draws from more diverse sources — Scissors Cut Paper rocks quietly along whilst musing about the futility of the conflicts which beset this troubled world and Home To You is a country boogie that Mary Chapin Carpenter herself would be proud of. Elsewhere, there are nods in the direction of some of the last century’s greatest songwriters, from Paul Simon to Cole Porter and various points in between. Like Mitchell, Simcock invests a good deal of well-judged humour in her music, scattering the ticklers among the more contemplative numbers. Most notable of the former variety is the sublimeLetisha Boccemski, on which Simcock wonders what it would be like to inherit a greater sense of devil-may-care centeredness and self-confidence (fans of Channel 4’s Countdown will instantly recognise the identity of Ms Boccemski’s mild-mannered alter ego). Lyrically, it’s witty and urbane and carried along on a jaunty, almost trad-jazz soundtrack (with Simcock manning the clarinet too). Imagine Aimee Mann singing from the Peter Skellern songbook, or even vice versa, and smile.
All this focus on the quality of the writing risks neglecting the beauty of Simcock’s voice. Blending a mellow richness with clarity and genuine emotion she produces a beautiful tone that perfectly complements the songs. Similarly, she is no slouch on the acoustic guitar either, mixing some excellent finger picking and riffing with Jones. On this evidence, Simcock is a singer to watch out for and with the backing of Angelic and a healthy dollop of luck she won’t be disappearing any time soon.” (Trevor Raggatt)
Folk and Roots “Liz Simcock is the first artist to be signed to Angelic Music – the UK’s first label to specialise purely in female singer/songwriters. Liz’s music career has been a quiet revolution, after having a song chosen to appear on the ‘Playpen’ compilation cd alongside Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Kathryn Williams. Liz then released ‘Seven Sisters Road’ her first full length cd, treading her own independent path and building a solid reputation as a live performer along the way. Liz’s determination to be totally her own woman is a theme that continues on with this new album ‘Vanishing Girl’.
The wry tongue-in-cheek Letisha Boccemski (Liz’s alter-ego) gently but firmly lets you know in no uncertain terms that the artist has no interest in swaying with the well meaning advice and opinions of those who think they know better. She knows, as all true artists should, that what really matters, is a calm focus on her music and lyrics above all else. Her source of inspiration is clear in ‘The Sand that makes the Pearl’. Quite literally the ‘pearl’ of the whole album, the song takes the story of the life of Joni Mitchell and works it into a shimmering work of beauty. The message however, goes beyond Joni’s personal story to reach out on a personal level to touch everyone who hears it.
“Time and time again the choice for me, Either to be loved or to be free, Has left me wheeling skyward frozen and alone – But it’s a winter that brings springtime to my world: It’s the sand that makes the pearl.”
Blessed not only with a voice that is charged full of emotion, direct, warm and melodic, Liz’s lyrics are both calm and passionate, full of poetry and yet instantly accessible, warm and welcoming but tinged with a touch of sadness, perhaps at this mad world we all find ourselves in – it’s clear in the opening track ‘Fish Out of Water’, “And I feel like a fish out of water trying to breathe, Twisting and turning but the water is out of my reach. You could say that it’s just how life goes but I still dream – of rivers running out to the open sea” In this world of pop idols and celebrity worship, a quiet revolution is indeed taking place! There are those of us out there looking for the real thing – if that’s you, close your eyes, turn off the mobile and prepare for a treat!” Jasmine Blake
Folk and Roots Music Dec 2001 North London based singer-songwriter Liz Simcock has just released her debut album named after one of London’s busy arteries. Simcock has been a regular feature on London’s acoustic scene for the last six years making regular appearances at some folk clubs and Soho’s Poetry Cafe. The album consists of 12 self penned songs, drawing on Simcock’s reflections on personal relationships, the world around her. One of the highlights of the album is “Forty Years”, Simcock accompanies her singing with some wonderfully atmospheric and sensitive penny whistling, a tale of betrayed and false love, of betrayed loyalties, deception and the complexities of human relationships, which brings to the fore Simcock’s intelligent and insightful songwriting. Simcock cites a number of influences on her music from Christine Collister, to Bob Dylan via Billy Bragg, Richard Thompson Nancy Griffith and Eddi Reader, whilst some of these influences can be seen Simcock is a talent in very much her own right.
The album draws on Simcock’s strength as a singer and guitarist (with guest appearances by Dave Ellis on acoustic guitar, Jake Walker on viola and Gary Brady on percussion, but the album is very much Simcock’s own), in these days when from time to time the label “singer-songwriter” can be pretty darned vague, Simcock’s debut offering is a fine contribution.
It would be interesting to see Simcock to put her clear skills to play on some traditional material, I suspect the results would be impressive, that aside this album is an excellent debut. This is an album that deserves to be played again and again, each listening will reveal further depth. It’s going to be a good long time before my copy moves too far away from my player.
Psychos Dec 2001 Promoting her debut album “Seven Sisters Road”, Liz evokes comparisons with the likes of Eddi Reader, Kathryn Williams and Thea Gilmore.. all three of whom she appeared with on the 1999 Playpen compilation album. A deceptively simple style lends itself perfectly to her exquisite songs, the lyrics of which demonstrate an eye for detail which is truly rare. Underlying much of her music is a sense of peacefulness and understanding wrought from bitter experience. She sings of loss, of unrequited love and of fools too full of themselves to see what’s best….and yet her message is one of acceptance. Musically such songs are tailored by melodies which are neither too sweet nor too hard, although, now and again, a tune will deliver itself into your consciousness till you think it the best thing you’ve ever heard; for me this happened with a track called Masterpiece. Liz Simcock is truly a wonderful songwriter.
Rock ‘n’ Reel Autumn 1999 Liz Simcock is a revelation. Her Strand of Silver shimmers with all the breathy beauty of a (warmer) June Tabor. A neatly effective delivery, too, reinforces the impression that she deserves to reach far larger audiences than she currently does.
Get Rhythm Dec 1999 Liz Simcock brings back the Celtic feel with Strand of Silver, a song that… sound(s) like a track from a Judds album, professional and perfectly executed.
The Big Issue in the North 22nd Nov 1999 Liz Simcock’s shockingly Strand of Silver is just one highlight on an album bursting at the seams with good-natured, simple yet evocative music… reflecting the increase in popularity of acoustic music, the Playpen disc brings together new, up-and-coming and established artists to provide 13 tracks covering a wide spectrum of musical styles.
There are excellent cuts by the big names – Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Eliza Carthy (Bragg’s ‘Must I Paint You A Picture’ in particular is excellent), but it’s the lesser-known artists that provide the most interest and the highlights on the album. Thea Gilmore’s ‘People Like You’ is a sharp, spiky track with a really strong melody, while the Liz Simcock and Miro songs are the best of the many undiscovered gems on the Playpen disc.”…reflects the amazing depth of talent on the acoustic scene…”
Fish Records June / July 2000 Reflecting the increase in popularity of acoustic music, the Playpen disc brings together new, up-and-coming and established artists to provide 13 tracks covering a wide spectrum of musical styles… the Liz Simcock and the Miro songs are the best of the many undiscovered gems on the Playpen disc…