“Yorkshire’s Katie Spencer brings together fine songwriting, excellent guitar work and a clear love of John Martyn on debut five-track EP, Good Morning Sky. With deft support from some seasoned accompanists her dense, brooding and heartfelt songs have an attractive dreamlike quality that suggest a bright future.”
“Haunting, escapist and moving: although all you essentially need to know is that GOOD MORNING SKY, the debut mini-album from Yorkshire-based artist Katie Spencer, is very good. Sauntering along at a pedestrian pace allows time for each heartbeat of this record to align with that of the listener. The collection may only last twenty minutes and comprise of five tracks, but the enticing feel from sampling the work of a young singer-songwriter finding her own way in the music world sends out signals of a promising future.
If you’re seeking an initial hook to display the music of Katie, think a slice of indie alternative folk. An eerie almost spiritual sound benefits from an acoustic backdrop interspersed with some cool electric. There are implicit soundtrack elements to the tunes which you could quite easily imagine adorning the moving images on some noir piece of celluloid. Apart from a relaxed languid exterior, the five songs leave an imprint to suggest an artist ahead of her curve, whilst displaying prodigious tendencies in the sphere of her style.
Katie is making inroads in presenting her music as an independent artist effectively and the atmospheric video for the track ‘Children (Don’t You Know)’ is as good starting point as you are likely to get, while capturing the essence of her music. The album’s opening track ‘It’s True’, complete with the gorgeous tones from John Martyn’s acoustic guitar, also acts as an imaginative introduction to her recorded material and perfectly sets the scene for a wave of drooling music to gently roll in. ‘Magazines’ follows in a hazy cloud with the sultry vocals being surrounded by some seriously good instrumental support. ‘Moths to the Light’ succeeds in taking the pace down even a further notch without losing the momentum of effect. The final track ‘Can’t Resist the Road’ houses the album title in one of its opening lines and seals the deal on what the record sets out to offer.
As you would expect from such a release, there are raw elements that can be built upon. While the vocals have a clear role in projecting an evocative atmosphere, natural development will enhance their appeal to really prise open a listener’s ear. Katie and her team of players have absolutely honed in on a specific landscape style. Smart arrangements are prevalent and very successful in creating the dark mood that gives the record a splendid mystique. Perhaps there is room for improvement in seeking a stronger initial lyrical impact suggesting a pull between the deep excavation of the words and a need to make the music accessible. However, the major selling point of this debut record is the wonderful exposition of mood generation and this has effortlessly appeared with great success.
GOOD MORNING SKY is a tempting release waiting patiently in the wings to pounce on an unsuspecting listener when given the chance. Katie Spencer uses the breadth of her inner psyche to write and sing songs that evoke feelings far away from the surface of disposable music. This mood-driven mini-album is an effectual dip into the recording world and a highly promising debut. ”
“Yorkshire-based Katie Spencer makes no secret of the fact that she’s a fan of the late John Martyn. That influence is noted in the credits of her debut mini-album Good Morning Sky which opens with It’s True, on which she plays one of John’s acoustic guitars. The guest musicians also include keyboardist Foss Paterson who played with John on a number of albums in the ’90s.
In terms of Martyn’s influence, it’s there on the slower numbers in the laid-back jazz-infused melodies on which Foss Paterson keys provide some beautiful jazz lines which call to mind Danny Thompson. That said, there is enough variety elsewhere on this album to suggest Katie’s musical horizons are both broad and inventive.
Katie co-produced the album with Brian Young, who also plays an assortment of instruments from electric guitar to Estonian harp, and they allow Katie’s first instrument of choice to shine through in the mix. After first listening to Katie play I assumed she’d been playing the guitar for a long time so I was surprised to find that she only picked up the guitar in 2012, an instrument that lends itself well to her alluring jazzy vocals. Her guitar melodies are not flashy, but sympathetic. You notice them more on repeated listens, especially on headphones, when you begin to appreciate how inventive she can be with her patterns and rhythms.
Although only five tracks, Spencer packs in some variety as she picks up the pace with the second track Magazines, a rhythm and blues number with a hint of that Tulsa sound with Young lending some electric guitar for JJ Cale-inspired moments. It contrasts well to the album opener, both musically and lyrically, demonstrating a love for wordplay as she turns up some lingering phrases “magazines read today that floral prints are in, the only place that’s true is inside your head…”
Aided by Fraser Speirs‘ harmonica, echoing vibes, overdubbed vocals and Young’s Estonian harp, an open prairie soundscape is conjured out of the blue for Children (Don’t You Know). We premiered the video for the track on which Katie shared that it was one of the first songs she created, and it had been following her around ever since – “pulling on my coat tails….It explores the idea that the child is ever-present in the adult, proving that age really is just a human construct when building relationships with people.”
Moths to the Light finds us back in late night Thompson – Martyn territory for what may well be her most poetic exploration on the album although I admit that I found myself struggling to discern some of her lyrics on this mix.
Can’t Resist the Road brings ‘Good Morning Sky’ to its conclusion. A short song about not being able to resist the call of the road and the new discoveries that it may bring. I’m looking forward to hearing what she finds out there, as debuts go Katie Spencer is clearly off to a flying start, and there’s a broad enough palette on offer here to suggest she’s a name worth watching for in the future.”
“There's nothing really quite as rewarding in music as bearing witness to a burgeoning talent through an artists' teenage years, watching that talent grow and develop with an equal measure of drive and determination, whilst taking each opportunity as and when it comes along. Yorkshire-based Katie Spencer has done her apprenticeship as a floor singer, as the tentative opening act and as the performer who is given the spare twenty minute slot in the festival bar, who can now consider herself an artist who we should take notice of.
GOOD MORNING SKY is Katie's debut EP which features five self-penned songs, each soulfully performed with convincing passion. Drawing on the influence of John Martyn, not only collaborating here with two former Martyn band mates, drummer Ted McKenna (SAHB, Rory Gallagher) and keyboard player Foss Paterson (Jethro Tull), but also playing Martyn's acoustic guitar on the opening song It's True, the EPs atmosphere recalls some of the essence of Martyn's best music.
The songs are treated to a delicate and mature guitar style to go with her distinctively graceful voice, which is enough in itself, yet Katie makes further room for her musicians to breathe, such as on Magazines, where producer Brian Young offers some sweet guitar licks. The atmospheric Moths to the Light also features Tim O'Connor's empathetic lead guitar playing, which fits the arrangement perfectly and contributes to the EPs overall dreamy sound.”
"Less than a year after the release of her debut EP, “Live Soundtrack To A Short Film”, Hull singer-songwriter Katie Spencer is already back, with a brand new five track mini album “Good Morning Sky”.
Whereas “Live Soundtrack…” was a predominantly solo affair, this new release sees Katie backed by a roster of accomplished guest musicians, among them Brian Young, Ted McKenna (ex Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Michael Schenker Group and others), Foss Paterson and Hull’s own Tim O’Connor.
First impressions are pleasing – the CD comes in a nicely presented gatefold sleeve with striking cover art by Katie herself (she’s clearly multi-talented). What’s inside is just as good.
Comparisons with the likes of Laura Marling are impossible to avoid but that’s no criticism – there may be obvious similarities between the two artists (it would be silly to suggest otherwise) but the sound is still very much Katie’s own, albeit with a nod or two to some commendable influences.
Opener “It’s True” actually recalls Joni Mitchell more than anything, leading into the vocal with a sumptuous keyboard intro courtesy of Foss Paterson. The guitar is picked sparsely, almost minimalist (it works well) and is played on an instrument formerly owned by none other than the late John Martyn. Yes, THAT John Martyn. Blimey.
Second track “Magazines” moves into electric mode (and here we really are in Marling territory). “Your ideas don’t resemble me”, Katie sings, taking a well-aimed swipe at the type of magazines that tell young girls how to think (at least I think that’s the gist of it – it was my interpretation at any rate).
Lead single “Children (Don’t You Know)” puts me in mind of US songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield (that’s a huge compliment) and is, as Katie told Folk Radio UK, about “the idea that the child is ever-present in the adult, proving that age really is just a human construct when building relationships with people”. It also comes with a splendid guitar solo from longstanding local musician and all round good egg Tim O’Connor.
The album wraps up with two further tracks, “Moths To The Light” and “Can’t Resist The Road”, and the standard doesn’t slip. Considered, thoughtful guitar and that warm, deep vocal. Nice.
This is an impressively mature (mini) album for such a young musician (Katie has only been performing since 2014) and the standard of the arrangements and production is startling. It shows a sharp mind, too – assembling such an experienced rhythm section is a very shrewd move, and is no small factor in the quality of the finished article.
So, all in all an excellent CD, possibly a little on the short side (the album weighs in at just twenty minutes), but then you know what they say – always leave them wanting more. And why not."
"The urge to praise the spectacle of the new day is something that runs deep in our D.N.A., the terrors of the night is the inherited backlash from our primordial days of soup and mist and one that cannot be denied easily; the salute we offer to the hopeful sunshine ahead is the inner thought of Good Morning Sky, the persuasive chant that might guarantee a nice day and the memory to hold close when night rears its head again.
For Katie Spencer, the heavens and the horizon are crystal clear with her album Good Morning Sky, the gentleness supplied by the artist and the troupe of players that surround her throughout the five songs on the E.P. is heartfelt, a passionate whisper to the dawn and with the dare take me on growl to the darkness in us all.
With the ever enjoyable talent of Foss Paterson on keys, and Tim O’ Connor, Brian Young, Fraser Speirs and Ted McKenna performing with delightful intent and skill across the E.P and makes Katie Spencer’s touching melancholy and drive a daring response, a sense of drifting snow inside a raging storm, the sense of beauty that an iceberg brings when seen from a distance but with the knowledge of how it can break your heart if you should venture too close.
Good Morning Sky is firm, it is resolute and comforting, in songs such as Children (Don’t You Know), Moths To The Light and Can’t Resist The Road, that sense of fascinating reassurance is to be felt and grabbed hold of and as the relief swells in the mind, so too does the heart acknowledge that without the dusk, the dawn of the new day means nothing.
A wonderfully human set of songs, a cry of gentle anger hidden inside the sigh of enormity and forever; the welcome of the new day is always appreciated, it gives us hope that all things can be resolved and made clean and for Katie Spencer, it is offered with absolute generosity."
SHORT FILM REVIEW:
“Drawing on influences such as John Martyn, Roy Harper and Laura Marling, Spencer creates modern folk music which owes as much to East Riding as it does to the American greats, with her striking vocals and adept songwriting backed by evocative and complex acoustic guitar. Indeed, recent demo ‘Warehouse One’ boasts a formidable atmosphere … to create a Western soundscape of which Ry Cooder would be proud.”
-Wake The Deaf
"I spoke briefly with Katie Spencer before the gig, she had endured a five and a half hour journey from Hull to get here but by the end of it, because of her songs and the purity of them I somehow felt I knew her as a result. Music can do this. There is such a purity and honest integrity about her work.
On a previous visit to play in Norfolk at the Sheringham festival she was spotted by Carol and invited back to play the Mo, something for which I am grateful as I was spellbound by her beautiful set.
All alone on the stage in a with her acoustic guitar and dressed in a beautiful shirt she totally charmed the audience throughout the set, connecting with her songs and also her humble Northern charm between songs … “I forget how blue the sea can be ’til I come down south … and also how Northern I am!”
It can’t have been easy starting out as a solo artist travelling around the country and taking to the stage alone and playing almost all original compositions with no band share the stage with … but what songs, what a voice, and what playing!
The audience absolutely adored her and it was great to see the mutual respect among the musicians. Self-taught, her guitar playing is just incredible and with her storytelling songs it was one of those special sets which just seem to pass all too quickly, seemingly passing by in the dreamy blinking of an eye, she takes you to the worlds and characters within the songs.
The whole gamut of emotions and the end of her set felt like waking from a beautifully vivid musical dream. I made sure I came home with a copy of her mini-album, Good Morning Sky. Fans of Laura Marling, John Martyn, Ryley Walker, early Neil Young et al. will absolutely love her. Charming, talented, hard-working and dedicated, we have to get her back to Norfolk to play in Norwich."
“One of our busiest gigging musicians”
- Alan Raw, BBC Introducing
“Next up was a young singer-songwriter from Hull, Katie Spencer. I had not seen Katie before but was immediately and hugely impressed. With her reverb-laden acoustic guitar, powerful and original song writing and a voice like warm honey, she was, for me, the discovery of the festival.
I look forward to hearing recorded versions of her songs, such as "Please Don’t Look At Me", "Don’t Take Me As A Fool" and "Can’t Resist The Road". As a fellow John Martyn enthusiast, I also enjoyed Katie’s interpretation of the traditional "Spencer The Rover" and her sensuous version of John’s "Couldn’t Love You More". Katie Spencer is definitely an artist to look out for.”
"The Moonbeams March Weekend was pretty much in full-flow by the time I arrived at the Bell Hotel in Driffield this afternoon, just in time to catch the young Hull singer-songwriter Kate Spencer, whose midday set was just the thing to help me get settled in at this ungodly hour of almost twenty hours late.
Katie seems to pop up a lot these days, a young musician who appears to be passionate about her music yet continues to maintain an unassuming, almost diffident stage presence.
Selecting from a steadily growing repertoire of self-penned songs, some quite teeny, like Incense Skin for instance, Katie relaxed into her set, seemingly equally at home with her own songs, the odd cover, in this afternoon's case John Martyn's Couldn't Love You More, as well as the occasional instrumental, including the almost ambient Wyndham Hill-styled Warehouse One."
“Favourite is singer songwriter Katie Spencer, who I see briefly early on Saturday and make a point of catching later in the Wold Top. Having delivered a fine version of John Martyn’s Spencer The Rover (not short of ambition then) she has the nerve to introduce a song which, she informs us, is about the fact that however old we may be we’re still all children at heart really. Young people can be infuriating can’t they? The nerve of it. I have stuff in my freezer older than Katie Spencer.
Filled with righteous geriatric indignation I heroically fight the temptation to point out loudly and in my most world weary voice that we’re no such thing. It is probably as close as I’ve ever come to a heckle in my life. At which point Katie Spencer shoots me down in flames with a really great little song that contained one of the best lyrics I’ve heard in years –
“We’re all children
Trying not to mix the play dough
Trying not to turn it brown.”
Yep. That just about sums it up. So she’d best carry on being naive and idealistic and I’ll try to be less of a depressing old cynic in future.”
- Louder Than War
© Katie Spencer 2018