The Great Escape comes to Brighton every year and sees an array of Ray bans, skinny jeans and straw hats descending on Brighton station from the big smoke. Every year I say I will attend the event and then it never happens and I feel mildly envious at all the cool cats stepping off that train with the wristbands and bottled cider to boot.
So this year I went along to the free parts of the three day festival and got ensconced in library square where my ignorant ears were delighted by the sounds of Stranded Horse – the French singer songwriter who has been in the game for ten years – and this man absolutely blew me away. At first I thought he was American as his voice had that richness and tone that can only be delivered by the land of opportunity but he’s actually based in France, though has spent a lot of time in the UK.
Sometimes musicians over egg the pudding but with Stranded Horse – real name Yann Tambour – the songs were all the more rich for being stripped back and laid bare. As the sun beat down Tambour’s acoustics and melodies filled library square where children danced and twenty-somethings drank. It felt pretty amazing and unbelievable that the sounds were coming from just one person. He plays many instruments, not just the guitar, and also beat boxes which adds an edgier dimension to beautifully written, captivating pieces.
If there was just one criticism it was Tambour standing up and clapping his hands together in the clichéd way people wave their lighters above their heads. The kids loved it – and I mean the toddlers not the ‘kids’ – but it detracted from how brilliant his voice was and it seemed to change the atmosphere somewhat. That’s probably a mean criticism but it felt a little contrived and a tad false. What Tambour doesn’t realise is that he doesn’t need to do this at all. He is brilliant without the need for X Factor tricks. Less is definitely more and he should put a bit more faith into what he does best – singing and playing.
I enjoyed Tambour’s performance so much that I purchased Humbling Tides and the album did not fail to deliver at all. He sings in both English and French – I think it was just in English at the Great Escape (I’d indulged in the cider by this point) and his music benefits immensely by staying true to his French roots. Les Axes Déréglés’ is heart-stoppingly beautiful and shows that you don’t always need to understand or know what the lyrics mean for the song to have an effect.
If you go to see one gig this year then it should be this guy. What a great surprise it was. I’m not a betting man but if I were Stranded Horse would be quids in.