Rob Godfrey, a recent BA Songwriting graduate from BIMM Brighton, has taken the UK music scene by its horns and is riding his way, slowly but surely, to success. A singer-songwriter originally from Cambridge, Rob writes evocative love songs with a dark, cathartic edge. This live performance at Komedia, where he was supporting Martin Harley, saw him perform tracks from his recent EP ‘So Alive’, interspersed with a handful of covers so beautifully executed that the originals were soon erased from my mind.
Godfrey opened his rollercoaster ride of-a-set with one of his first ever tracks entitled ‘I’m just your boyfriend’ – a comic number about his bitter, cynical feelings towards an ex-girlfriend. The lyrics to this songs go, “I have a cage so if you fill me up with rage, I could just put you in it” which sounds sinister without context, doesn’t it? I promise, however, it was all done tongue in cheek. The fact that it is sung with a kind of perplexed cross-eyed facial expression definitely adds to the humour.
Although Rob’s set kick-started with light-heartedness, he took us on a journey of pain, heartbreak and relentless self-doubt, moving me to tears. Granted, the gin and tonics I was gulping were in part responsible, but his melodies were undeniably touching; it was the first time in too long I felt I emotionally connected with the words of another. From melancholic, nostalgic blues to country-esque folk melodies, the sheer range of emotion displayed in these songs were evocative of experiences we all identity with, thus ringing resonance in you in a way that can only best be described as bittersweet. You’ll just have to listen for yourself.
Mesmerizingly minor and bluesy songs such as ‘Your ghost is prettier than you’ were contrasted by jaunty covers of unlikely choices such as Cher’s ‘Believe’! One of my personal favourites, however, was a cover of ‘Stayin’ alive’ by The Bee Gee’s. Rob described his version of the disco classic as being “Latin sass”. Latin sass? The Bee Gees? Really Rob?! Whether this is just more evidence of Rob’s quirky humour, it is a description that is quite fitting. I can’t put my finger on how he managed to transform a disco tune into a Bossa Nova with its off-beat melodic phrasing and cool, slow, easy-breezy feel, but he did it. Oh, he did it so well. He had the audience, old and young, swaying, as if transported to a tropical island. It was an absolute delight to be a part of.
Godfrey’s combination of stunning guitar riffs and mind-boggling vocal range (which quite literally goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds) are not to be missed. He reminds me of a young John Martyn in his kooky style and stage persona. John Martyn’s jazzy folk style caught the attention of Island records when he was 17 and I can see 22 year old Rob Godfrey heading in the same direction. There is something so endearing and warming about his smoker’s voice, akin to the late John Martyn. The earthy, grittiness of his tone makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I had goose bumps for virtually the entirety of his set.
This summer, Godfrey played at the world renowned festival The Secret Garden Party and also earned himself a place at The Cambridge Folk Festival where previous acts include Newton Faulkner, Laura Marling and Van Morrison. In addition to these festival appearances, he has appeared on the radio shows BBC Introducing and BBC 6. I am excited to see what 2017 has in store for him and if you want to follow his journey, like his Facebook page where he regularly posts video’s with snippets of new song ideas, new releases and most recently the video for his single ‘Pollute me’. Find this at https://www.facebook.com/robgodfreyuk/?fref=ts and follow his soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/robgodfrey