The Wesley Anne is a warm, snugly kind of place this evening, reminiscent of old European style pubs and bars with a roaring fire, long sofa benches full of the chattering classes sipping red wine, cosy and familiar smells wafting throughout the venue lulling everyone into a sedate sense of security on this bitter winter's evening. So how does a relatively inventive and upbeat artist such as Early Gray chip into such a crowd when they all seem happy and reluctant to experience any intrusions? His Pop / R&B / Hip-Hop / Folk hybrid is familiar yet challenging, full of commercial potential unyet equally at home in a small pub back room. Tonight's set is a solo one, the band has been left at home, with an acoustic guitar providing accompaniment, a quiet and restrained intro to The Earl's new material, reinforcing the laid back and lethargic feeling of the evening. Earl Gray adopts an equally non-confrontational attitude, gently progressing through a short set of mellow songs, resplendent in a hoodie, baseball cap and sneakers, his puppy dog eyes beneath his shaggy hair appealing to and twanging the heart strings of all in the audience. His music is simple and uncomplicated, accessible ballads with a few slightly subtle profundities thrown in for good measure. It's encouraging to know that some of those good looking pop artists who go on to massive commercial success do start somewhere, that they're not all manufactured by a Pop Factory and spat out across the land, that there are some Pop performers who can write a decent tune and string some intelligible lyrics together. Earl Gray will certainly not be to everyone's taste, his saccharin sensibilities do get repetitive and drag at times, but lower your reservations, sit back, relax and give the Earl a go.

Published in InPress