The last time Goldenplec caught Hollie Fullbrook aka Tiny Ruins, it was filling the support slot for blues and hokum merchant CW Stoneking in The Button Factory back in 2011. Fullbrook had just released her debut album ‘Some Were Meant For Sea’, and even in the chattering environment of that venue her songwriting and delicate guitar work captivated those who bypassed the bar to hear her performance. It was clear then that a headline show was inevitable down the line, and tonight it’s The Workman’s Club that plays host to the singer.
On entering the venue the only sign that a show is on is the merchandise table outside the main room. It’s a sparsely populated gig, less than thirty people all in, but the venue has made a good job of enclosing the space with tables and chairs laid out in front, even if there is something of a gap between crowd and performers. Conor Linnie is just launching into his final number, The Fire I’m Kindling, as we take a pew. It gets off to a folky, picked start before his cajon player joins in to pummel it towards its finale, a well-received number that we can only guess was preceded by more in the same vein.
Kildare musician Inni-K follows, leading in from behind her keyboard. She flits between here and being upstanding and back again, augmented by a fascinating array of instruments; whether it is violin, ukulele, shakers, an African kalimba, vocal beatboxing or a curious Indian drone-maker that looks like a drawer with bellows. It’s a nice contrast as she moves from the plucked violin of Gentle Star through the ukulele of DNA, and back to the keys – where she teaches the crowd a singalong part for Come With Me. Even if this attempt is unsuccessful, she’s not to be put off, telling us “This is one where you are going to sing” before Find Your Beat. Yes ma’am. The room is halved, with one side providing handclaps and vocals while the other side chants “Find your beat”. Over this foundation, she sings, and it’s a fun and successful effort in uniting the crowd, false starts and all.
Everyone is by now settled nicely into the room as Tiny Ruins enters, alone with an acoustic guitar, and introduces her first number. It’s WB Yeats’ Aodh Wished For The Cloths Of Heaven set to music, and she seems concerned with doing it justice. Old As The Hills follows, and as always the sound in The Workman’s is commendable, with Fullbrook’s finger-picking ringing out crystal clear. The ambient sound of glasses rattling against one another gently seeps through the walls during Carriages, as much a testament to the pin-drop silence during the songs as it is to the diligence of the dishwashers.
Fullbrook builds rapport throughout, with vignettes punctuating the songs, mainly tales of touring and characters met along the way – a local Glasgow character and protagonist of new song Jamie Blue; trips to the Botanical Gardens before Me In The Museum, You in The Winter Garden; a back-and-forth with those audience members who have visited New Zealand. It’s such an intimate gig that there is a relaxed, conversational element to things throughout.
Three songs from an EP with her band are rolled out, a good old-fashioned love song – “That’s three or four depressing songs in a row, I’m sorry” – in the shape of Days are Long, Nights Are Longer, a fine North Of Greytown, and a cover of Peg Leg Howell’s Rolling Mill Blues from way back in ’29. It’s in a live setting that Fullbrook’s guitar chops come to the fore; her vocal and style is reminiscent of Sybil Baier, a distinctive and deceptively unique sound. “Imagine really loud and fast drums at the end of the song” she asks before She’ll be Coming Round, while she sings the electric guitar part herself. We think she misses her band. When the drum part comes around it is indeed easy to imagine, as her picking takes on a more forceful slant and gradually gives way to full on chords being banged out. With this, it’s all over; Fullbrook exits and the lights go up, encore be damned. It’s a fine gig from Tiny Ruins and a night of fine musicianship all round; a quiet Sunday to be sure, but hopefully on her next trip to these parts a few more take notice.