Carlyle United

Chanteuse performs for Gordon Brown

Most performing artistes like to start their tours in low-key fashion. Even U2 and the Stones kick off their stadium exploits with a little club date somewhere, just to get warmed up.

Experimental torch-singer Mara Carlyle chose an intriguing location to prep her tour, however: the small but hardly low-key 10 Downing Street. “The Downing Street thing came about at Jon Snow’s request,” explains the singer. “He’s the chairman of the homeless day centre that I’ve worked at for the last five years – New Horizon Youth Centre – and he asked me to come and sing at a private reception there to promote the charity’s work. It went brilliantly, but was definitely one of the most surreal gigs I’ve ever played…”

If you haven’t heard Carlyle’s output yet, then it’s well worth an internet wander. She’s best known as part of Matthew Herbert’s roster of gifted oddball singers, the likes of Dani Siciliano and Roisin Murphy, and now returns with a new EP and album on the EMI-affiliated Charisma Records.

The former, ‘Ancient And Modern’, is classic Carlyle, with beats by Plaid (she’s married to one of the founder members) and a diverse array of influences along the way, from Vietnamese folk to some pilfered 400-year-old lyrics. The forthcoming album ‘Nuzzle’, meanwhile, will feature duets with Willy Mason and the Guilllemots’ Fyfe Dangerfield, both of whom she toured with. The ‘Ancient And Modern EP’ is released on May 5th.

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