Review: Bella Hardy at Buxton’s Pavilion Arts Centre

Bella Hardy
Bella Hardy

Bella Hardy, contemporary singer-songwriter from Edale and winner of BBC2 Folk Singer of the Year Award 2014, performed songs from across her repertoire to an enthusiastic audience including old friends and teachers from her school years.

Her own With the Dawn group backed her at the concert in Buxton’s Pavilion Arts Centre on Sunday.

Bella uses traditional folk songs to which she brings a modern interpretation, often taking the viewpoint of the women in what has traditionally been a song written from the mans’s point of view, as for example her take on the Raggle Taggle Gypsies starting with the lines, “I’ve been loving you like a soldier in the peacetime waiting for war,” Several of her songs are about women and the mistreatment of them.

She started with ‘First Light of the Morning’ a mandolin solo joined by keyboard and later a solid bass, onto ‘The Darkness of the Day’ her pure voice and plucked violin, with Anna Masses’s voice and guitar as contrast. ‘Herring Girls’ tells the story of the women who cleaned and packed herrings following the catch from Scotland to Great Yarmouth. ‘Time Wanders On’ was written in Canada and has an American country sound. ‘Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Soldier’ revisits the First World War. Many songs were written on the road.

A versatile and deceptively softly spoken performer, she brings passion and depth to her music, a beautiful voice and poetry in her lyrics, a vibrant stage presence with the gift of being able to reach her audience,