Liz Simcock

TrackAlbum
Seven Sisters RoadSeven Sisters Road
Driving HomeSeven Sisters Road
Letisha BoccemskiVanishing Girl
Scissors Cuts PaperVanishing Girl
The Sand That Makes The PearlVanishing Girl
Home To YouVanishing Girl
BeachcomberBeachcomber
Cromer PierBeachcomber
Harry's EyesFriday Night Train Home
To Dance Like You DoFriday Night Train Home

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

Acoustic Sussex used to arrange gigs around the East Grinstead area until the guy that ran it retired to the Peak District. Its swansong was Dave Swarbrick playing at the Ravenswood Country House Inn at Sharpthorne just near East Grinstead (sadly now no more). That was a truly magical evening. A few years earlier we were lucky enough to see Pete Atkin (Toppermost #75) play at the same venue and our friends at Acoustic Sussex had arranged for Liz Simcock to open the evening. I was immediately captivated by her mezzo-soprano voice and quality of the songs she sang. I bought the first two CDs and was not disappointed with either; there are insightful lyrics, candid observations and humour in equal measure.

A review of that gig was in the Mid Sussex Times:

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 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

I can’t find very much in the way of biography but, on her website, Ms Simcock cites Richard Thompson (Toppermost #120), Clive Gregson, Boo Hewerdine and Joni Mitchell among her main song-writing influences, and these can be heard in her music. Lyrical references would indicate that Liz Simcock grew up in North London. In 1999, she featured on Playpen: An Album Of New Acoustic Music alongside Thea Gilmore, Billy Bragg, Kathryn Williams, Eliza Carthy, Eddi Reader…

It’s sometimes more difficult to pick a 10 from four albums and forty-seven songs than from a huge catalogue. On this one, I’ve let my heart rule my head and chosen 10 that speak to me for reasons that will become apparent.

Liz Simcock’s first album Seven Sisters Road was released in 2001 on Doghouse Records and has twelve wonderful songs from which two chose themselves.

During the mid-80s I was assistant manager for a major Building Society at their branch on the Holloway Road, located where it meets the Seven Sisters Road. As an Arsenal fan, I’m fully aware it is this road that links Islington with Tottenham and our closest rivals. All that aside, Seven Sisters Road is about heartfelt unrequited love and is full of such beautiful imagery and, in my opinion, Liz Simcock is every bit the angel she purports to be in the song, using the play on words to describe both herself and the place name:

There’s a hundred different ways that you can go
From the Angel to the Seven Sisters Road
And if you call me I’ll come
I’ll be ready to run
Like an angel down the Seven Sisters Road

Clive Gregson is known for being a member of the band Any Trouble, his collaboration with Christine Collister and his solo work. Recently, he has been working with Liz Simcock. Her song Driving Home shows just what an influence Clive is, both musically and lyrically.

The rest of the album is simply sublime and contains the aforementioned Masterpiece. Is this love unrequited? You decide.

In 2004 Liz Simcock released Vanishing Girl, another collection of quality songs. Letisha Boccemski (an anagram of Elisabeth Simcock and her alter ego) with subtle humour, says I know what I’m doing and I’m not going to fit the box just because you want me to – I’m my own person in no uncertain terms! Scissors Cuts Paper could be about any conflict at any time in history, using the metaphor of the game ‘rock paper scissors’ to illustrate the futility of war.

Bob Preece refers to The Sand That Makes The Pearl in his review of the Ravenswood gig, and Liz cites Joni Mitchell as a major influence. To quote from the CD insert: this was inspired by a documentary about Joni Mitchell called Woman Of Heart And Mind. Many of the ideas in the song came from things Joni said when interviewed in face-to-face interviews during the film.” The man in the song is Graham Nash. Home To You is pure fun and you cannot help but smile at all the misadventures that happen in the song, even if they are a bit contrived. This is another album of laughter and tears. Some songs have both.

We had to wait fully four years for the next album but, hey, it was worth it. Beachcomber has a number of songs set by the sea and the usual mix of love, observation and humour set to quality tunes with some stunning playing and arrangements. Beachcomber is a lovely song where searching on the beach is a metaphor for looking for love to wonderful effect. I have two very good friends for whom the North Norfolk coast is a very special place. One I met in September 1970 on the first day of senior school, the other is his wife. This area is their bolthole when life in London becomes too oppressive and it is their intended retirement destination. Cromer Pier reminds me of them and why the area is so special to them. So for very, very personal reasons this has to be in my Toppermost 10.

Another five years passed before Friday Night Train Home was released. I commend the humour of The Bouzouki And The W3 and it nearly filled the last place. However, I decided to end with a smile, but also a dance. Before we get there, here is a story of how long-standing best friends become part of our relationships. Harry’s Eyes is a gentle dig that sometimes these friends are always in the room even when they are far away.

Our last song takes us to the dance floor; To Dance Like You Do is a lovely way to end the set but, please remember, there are currently another thirty-seven songs of equal quality to sample. Right now, there is a limited selection on YouTube and Spotify, but there is always Liz Simcock’s website and the shop therein.

 

Liz Simcock official website

TopperPost #506

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Shields
    Mar 10, 2016

    Ian, thanks for introducing me to this artist. She has a fine voice and these songs sound excellent on a first listen.
    Will be exploring her work further…

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