Laura Oakes, Eleanor Nelly: Phase One, Liverpool

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Laura Oakes

As Huyton native Laura Oakes brought her smooth country sound to her home city Saturday night, Getintothis’ Naomi Campbell was there to soak up this Nashville dreamer’s sound.

After building her status as Liverpool’s own ‘Country Queen’ over the last seven years, Laura Oakes revealed during her set at Liverpool’s Phase One that Shania Twain has featured her track, Better In Blue Jeans, on her Kick-Ass Women of Country Music playlist on Spotify. 

For a small town girl hailing from Huyton, where fellow Nashville dreamers are far and few between, this is “as good as it gets” claims Oakes. 

Acknowledgement from the Canadian country sensation comes well deserved as Oakes silenced the packed room with her tongue in cheek country pop and emotive ballads.  

Fellow acoustic singer-songwriter Eleanor Nelly was an apt choice for support with her similarly rustic voice and honed guitar picking. 

The young songstress, also from Huyton, has made her name across the Liverpool music scene since her debut performance at the Cavern Pub’s Monday club at the tender age of 14.

Now 20, Nelly has derived her own dedicated fans with her folk soaked music. 

With the audience warmed up, Oakes took to the stage, glowing with the help of some glittery trousers and the excitement of playing a home show. 

Oakes was joined by fellow musician and friend Paul Darling during her set, their intricate harmonies and acoustics blending into a rich, wholesome sound.  

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Oakes pleasantly surprised us with a diverse repertoire, her dynamic guitar playing changing with each track, dissolving any assumptions that a solo artist on stage without a full band would have one specific style. 

Quirky track Lazy written by Darling in a nod to Oakes’ laid back demeanour quickly caught the audience’s attention with a cheerful guitar riff before we were introduced to a string of tracks from Oakes upcoming EP, How Big Is Your World. 

American country anthem Welcome To The Family gave us an insight into growing up in a large musical family.

The subtle twists in the deliverance of the vocals against a slow paced banjo riff are reminiscent of current country-pop artists Carrie Underwood and Maren Morris with their packed choruses and relatable lyrics. 

In an open love letter to the country music capital, fan favourite Nashville Stole Your Gal encouraged a sea of voices to sing along to the memorable lyrics.

The crowd participation spurred the Liverpudlian to note her appreciation of playing her music only 12 miles from where she calls home rather 4000 miles away in Nashville

Better In Blue Jeans instantly lit up the energy in the room, the low tone of the verses making room for Oakes most impressive vocal performance of the night so far in its epic choruses. 

How Big Is Your World, the title track from the EP, exhibits Oakes homegrown roots, inspired by the outdoors when on tour in Scotland last year. 

Oakes gratitude flows from the graceful track, similar to The Carpenters with its unusual, quaint melodies and silky backing vocals from Darling. 

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Oakes performed her final original ballad of the night with Learn To Be Lonely Again.

Standing solo on stage, she again changes the tempo.

From fast-paced pop to soul-warming folk with a delicate guitar riff and beautiful melodies playing around old school dark country guitar chords in a Patsy Cline meets Dolly Parton unique style, this one ticks all the boxes of an authentic country track. 

For the encore, Oakes can’t help but make the most of her experience in playing to a familiar crowd, playing three extra songs including a charming rendition of the Dixie Chicks version of Landslide. 

Images by Getintothis’ Tom Craven

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