Norwegian-born singer-songwriter Liv Austen moved to the UK in 2010 and released her first EP Workin’ Man’s Dream in 2014. Since then she’s become one of the most popular acts on the UK country scene, performing around the country and working with artists like The Shires, as well as acting in the critically acclaimed TV series Humans. She recently released her debut album A Moment Of Your Time, and last night played a launch show for the record at Islington Metal Works.
Surrounded by her four-piece band, Austen kicked off her set with Miss Nobody, the opening track from the album. It’s an atmospheric, rocky number with pulsing drums and wailing guitars which showed off her smooth, slightly husky vocals. Right from the start she was dancing and getting lost in the music, and brought a great swagger to her performance. She hit a huge note at the end and received loud cheers and applause from the enthusiastic crowd.
That set the template for a high-energy show featuring every track from A Moment Of Your Time. Austen brought out the album’s pop, rock and country influences on songs like the catchy Part Time Sweetheart, the folky and bright Train Of Thought and the laid-back groove of End Up With You. The audience sang and danced along throughout and she frequently encouraged them to join in, thanking them for their support.
What brought the whole thing together was Austen’s gorgeous vocals. She has an absolutely fantastic range, hitting some apparently effortless high notes on Nothing Less Nothing More and showing off her vocal runs on the funky, breathy A Moment Of Your Time. I also thought she brought tons of personality to her performance and it looked like she was having a great time on stage, particularly during the upbeat, breezy Don’t Regret A Single One. She seems more comfortable with each performance of hers I see and it’s lovely watching her blossom in front of a crowd.
For me Austen particularly shone in the slower numbers. Whole Heart (which reminded me of Carly Pearce’s Every Little Thing) paired open, honest lyrics with a lighter melody. Meanwhile, the delicate, dreamy Want It More gave her a chance to show off her piano-playing skills. It’s clear Austen’s emotions lie very close to the surface when she sings and you really feel she’s putting every fibre of her being into her performance.
One of the standout moments was Detour. The stripped-back acoustic arrangement put Austen’s vocals front and centre, showing off her gorgeous tone and pure, angelic clarity. She wrung every drop of emotion out of the lyrics and the mixture of anguish, frustration and regret was palpable. It was an absolutely heartbreaking performance and I must admit I did shed a tear towards the end.
Austen closed the main portion of her set with The Next Time. It’s become a fixture of her live performances and features great fairytale imagery and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and showed off her sassy side. She also encouraged the crowd to sing and clap along, which they did with gusto before loudly demanding an encore. Austen obliged by performing But I Know I Love Him, a moving and romantic ode to meeting a lover at the right time in life. She then brought her band back up for current single Window Shopping, which she described as ‘one to dance to’. The playful song showed off her humour, soulful vocals and quickfire lyrics, and had a great balance of sass and sweetness.
Overall Austen delivered a fun and entertaining performance which showed off her stunning vocal range and her range of influences. It’s clear she loves what she does – and that the fans love her back. In my view she goes from strength to strength every time I see her perform. I’m already excited to see what she’ll do next!
Set list: 1. Miss Nobody 2. Part Time Sweetheart 3. Want It More 4. Train Of Thought 5. End Up With You 6. Whole Heart 7. Nothing Less Nothing More 8. Don’t Regret A Single One 9. A Moment Of Your Time 10. Detour 11. The Next Time 12. But I Know I Love Him 13. Window Shopping Performance date: 6th November 2018