Lucy Spraggan – The Bullingdon, Oxford 8/6/16
It’s not always easy to be objective and open minded when heading off to see an artist whose big break came through the calculated, tacky leviathan of primetime drudge that is the X Factor. The show has been shamelessly poisoning the well for what seems like an eternity, smirking at the less than talented and producing prepackaged, thoughtless mediocrity in abundance. Anyone connected in anyway with such deplorable nonsense would surely lack any credibility as a solo artist and Lucy Spraggan was probably no different.
As her generous hour and a half set unfolded, with a genuine and heartfelt approach to her work, it began to dawn that this was far more than an artist grabbing her five minutes of fame and with poignant lyrics and natural charisma she lit up The Bullingdon, inviting us in to see her vulnerability, sensitivity and playful wit. There’s a boundless honesty to it all, never contrived or artificial, which runs through the entire show and Spraggan has the atypical ability to slip from tongue in cheek novelty to desperate sadness from song to song, her lyrics providing thoughtful observations and embracing provocative subject matter.
Spraggan clearly uses composing for its cathartic capabilities, openly addressing personal quandaries and also has the ability to weave strong narratives into her work, effortlessly seizing the age old folk tradition of the ballad, and creates three dimensional characters whose motives and plights are genuinely emotive and mournful. With only the occasional piano accompaniment, it’s stripped back and uncomplicated music which adds to the remarkably personal and genial atmosphere Spraggan creates, the synergy with her audience being a delight to behold.
All artists should ever really do when creating music is to be totally themselves, never immerse themselves in pride or ego, and Lucy Spraggan is an example of someone who is prepared to give herself to her music in order to make some semblance of the confusion and madness of modern life and to offer friendly comfort for those suffering. As a result, the evening was charming and powerful, and a definitive lesson for yours truly about preconceptions and general music snobbery. So with pursed lips and slight nausea I say, thanks X Factor but more importantly, thanks Lucy. Great job.