All Images Owned by Never Fade Records

Named after one of Gabrielle Aplin’s early songs, Never Fade Records’ acoustic night has gone from strength to strength since its launch a year ago. Once a month, well known and emerging artists descend to The Social in Oxford Circus to perform stripped back versions of their own songs.

First up tonight was Gabrielle Aplin who performed a previously unheard acoustic song called ‘Stay’, which she only wrote three weeks ago. The song showcased Gabrielle Aplin’s beautiful haunting voice and reassured fans of her earlier work that might have been expecting more tropical pop, like her recent ‘Miss You‘ EP.

The atmosphere at Never Fade is second to none. People talk to strangers in the break between artists and, even more surprisingly, remain deadly silent and respectful even when the most unknown artists are playing. The crowd were so friendly that someone even offered to buy me a pint. Not wanting him to take out a second mortgage, I did the British thing and politely declined.

Strandels - Hidden Herd

Swedish trio Strandels offered up some feel-good folk-pop. They sang their heartfelt lyrics in beautiful harmonies that only occur when siblings sing together. The siblings’ (who were joined by a man who wouldn’t have looked out of place in a subtitled Scandinavian drama) sound was reminiscent of The Lumineers, Bear’s Den and Laura Marling. My favourite song in the short but sweet set was ‘Chance of Rain‘, which had the heart-warming message of seizing life and living in the moment.

Next up was Hannah Grace, who released her second EP Mustang with Never Fade Records about half a year ago. She impressed with her own original and provided the small crowd with a captivating David Gray cover.

Hannah Grace Martin Luke Brown - Hidden Herd

All the songs performed up until that point in the evening had a calm, sleepy quality. However, new band Outlya performed infectious drum-led melodies coupled with lead singers impressive voice. Their song ‘The Light‘ was lyrically impressive whilst their others were a little lacklustre. Fans of Port Isla should check out this band as they share lead singer William Bloomfield. I think we’ll be hearing a whole lot more of this band in the coming months as they release their first single in mid-February.

Outlya - Hidden Herd

Headlining the night was Martin Luke Brown who played his first gig in over a year and a half, although you wouldn’t have been able to guess. Emotional songs ‘Bring It Back to Me’ and ‘65 Roses‘ were effortlessly brought to life with his soulful voice. One of the night’s highlights was an impressive cover of ‘Over the Rainbow’ with his flatmate Hannah Grace, which had harmonies to die for.

If you’re in the London area (and even if you’re not) you should make your way along to one of the monthly sessions. The tickets only 10 pounds and you’ll see up to 4 acts so it’s an absolute bargain.