a review by Tom Girard
St James’ Global Collection series continued on Saturday 25th February 2023 by bringing a familiar face back home with his full band for the first time in four years in the form of Alderney’s Robert J. Hunter with support coming from Sark based troubadour Ash Jarman.
Following successful solo outings at the Guernsey Gigs Unplugged Club and last November’s Nocturne event, this was certainly Ash’s biggest solo show to date and taking to the stage in front of an attentive audience in the already very busy hall at St James would be daunting for anyone.
Ash though, with his trademark relaxed confidence, seemed to not be bothered by this particularly as, just equipped with a vintage semi-acoustic guitar, he played through a surprisingly varied set of songs spanning sounds ranging from falsetto yodelling to soulful, if slightly off kilter, ballads.
Once again his songs and performance had the audience hooked quickly and listening intently and several of his songs had the feel of being ready to have a backing band added and becoming something really special.
Particularly impressive was how Ash never felt like he was trying to do anything too complex but in this put on a set far more engaging than many solo guitarists who try things more apparently and obviously varied, showing how important songs and atmosphere can be as every song here was received with applause and, in many cases, cheers, and it was clear the night’s headliners were suitably impressed as well.
When you’ve been following an artist for a long time, and I’m not sure it’s possible to follow an artist longer than I have Robert J. Hunter as I first heard of him when he was a teenager in Alderney playing in a couple of local bands and recording his own demos at home, it can be easy to underestimate them and I suspect, despite all evidence (including an astonishing solo outing in this very venue back in early 2021) and the fact I was very much looking forward to this show, this is something I was somewhat doing here.