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Emma Ruth Rundle and Darkher at The Lexington, London - live review

Subterranea live

Crowd shot
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

The fact that Darkher [7]’s guitarist occasionally saws away at his strings with a violin bow seems more a gimmick than a benefit, but that’s the only air of pretence to Darkher’s – aka flame-haired Yorkshirewoman Jayn Wissenberg – sombre yet spellbinding dark pastoral folk and crushing doom. It’s a cosy setup tonight for Marriages vocalist EMMA RUTH RUNDLE [7]’s intimate set, and it feels like watching a friend perform. For the first two songs, it’s just Emma and her guitar, and the audience are silent. “You’re so polite!” she observes, but it’s more likely that everyone is transfixed by her eerily beautiful melodies and raw yet rich unique voice. A backing band join her, giving the songs a heavy oomph but losing none of the intimacy. Emma’s music is simultaneously soft and gut-wrenching – like in Protection, where the melody is gorgeous but the lyrics and emotive delivery show pain and anguish. For the finale, she goes full-on acoustic, shunning the mic and leaving her guitar unplugged for the passionate and tender Real Big Sky. There isn’t a dry eye in the house.