We Ruddy Love.. O. Chapman

We’ve had a few treats in our time hosting the best kept secret on London’s folk scene, but not many compare to the first time we saw O. Chapman play for us. It was a busy night at the Folkroom, the crowd bustling with loud conversation and clinking glasses. Cash registers opening and shutting. Broken tankards and big laughs. Chapman sidles up to the stage, places a small chair in the centre and sits down, his head barely above those of the pub crowd who stand about him.  He’s an unassuming fellow to look at, our O. Chapman. He’s tall enough, sure, but he’s quiet and a little retiring. Nevertheless, he sits on our little stage and mumbles a little hello, and then gently manoeuvres into his first song. And then it happens. The place falls quiet. Silence, immediately, bar Chapman’s fiddling guitar and softly-softly vocals.

He probably resents me for bringing this up everytime WWL brags about a Folkroom line-up, but it’s genuinely true. We’ve seen it happen three or four times now, though none was as startling as that first occasion. A crowded room of people, all reverentially watching some sort of unprecedented talent on a Wednesday evening in London.

It might well be something to do with his voice. It’s just about the best voice a folk artist could ever want – balanced on a rare peak between the valleys of M. Ward and Nick Drake. For the former, see ‘Shadows’, which could so easily be a forgotten moment on Ward’s 2009 record Hold Time (in fact, we’d pay good money to see it covered by She & Him – but then we’d pay good money to see most anything covered by She & Him). Chapman’s recorded tracks are, in particular, treats – his regular collaborator Faith Barker pays wonderful compliments to his voice with nothing more than the whispers of her own. One day we’ll have them both play, and the whole of the city will turn quietly in their direction. Though that might be risky, so maybe we won’t.

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