Bitter sweet and deeply affecting, Irish multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods‘ performance at St. Pancras Old Church provided a startling insight into her darkly ethereal debut album Colt, released via Sacred Bones on 8th June.
Stood behind her keyboard, Woods performed solo for most of her set with only projected visuals and a violinist to accompany her on a handful of tracks. Her achingly pure voice floated gently across the heads of her congregation, who sat listening in attentive, respectful silence.
Woods’ solo work is far removed from the alternative 90s sounds she helped to create as a member of JJ72. She’s clearly invested a painstaking amount of time and energy in assembling her new album, and the two EPs – Night (2014) and Heartbox (2016) – that preceded it. Perhaps that’s why she was so nervous performing, something she didn’t admit until the penultimate track, but she had no legitimate grounds to be on edge. Her recent singles ‘Inhaler’, ‘Prodigal Dog’ and ‘Black Rainbow’ were all mesmerising, even in their stripped back states.
Footage from her recent videos played out across the back wall of the Church, as Woods performed beautiful renditions of ‘Take Him In’, ‘Kith’ and ‘Limbs’, the latter standing out due to Woods’ clear, measured vocal delivery. Switching between keys and guitar with eas, Woods’ performance style was quiet and introspective, but its impact was one of powerful, all encompassing melancholy.
Whilst Colt is an album about grief, loss and abandonment, we left St Pancras Old Church awash with raw and unexpected emotion, feeling like we’d gained rather than lost something from Woods’ performance.
Photo Credit: Joshua Wright