A late highlight of last year’s concert-going, for me, was Barb Jungr’s “Festive Feelings” show at Crazy Coqs, a Christmas concert that combined songs by Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and George Harrison with Jungr’s customary inventiveness, verve and aplomb. Jungr’s collaborators on this programme were Jenny Carr on piano and Peter Horsfall on trumpet, both of whom also contributed harmonies throughout the evening, while Horsfall also sang a seductive lead on “Moonlight in Vermont” and duetted with Jungr on a funny, combative “Fairytale of New York.”
It’s pleasing to report, then, that Horsfall has now released his debut EP: How Can We Know? is a 4-track release of great charm and craft that firmly confirms Horsfall as a talent watch. Already a prolific live performer, and member of London swing group Kansas Smitty’s House Band, Horsfall’s music harks back to 1920s and 1930s-era jazz styles. And, as the Crazy Coqs show demonstrated, he has a knack for delivering songs in a way that makes them sound both classic and fresh. His skilful song-writing, which the EP showcases, possesses precisely those same qualities. With Horsfall’s light, airy vocals accompanied by David Archer on guitar, Joe Webb on piano and Dave O’Brien on bass as well as his own great trumpet-playing, the EP sustains a relaxed, easy, intimate tone.
The title track is a stately and instantly enticing opener that capture’s love’s uncertainties with melancholy charm. “It’s Not You, It’s Me” swings beautifully, with particularly lovely piano and trumpet work, while the mellow, elegant “This Song’s For You” gracefully wishes a parted lover well. “Cupid’s Arrow’s and Bow”, a co-write with Jungr, is a delight: a brisk, giddy and infectious ode to getting swept up by love that comes complete with a sneaky lyrical homage to Leonard Cohen. Indeed, each of these carefully-crafted songs gleams like a jewel and sounds like a standard in the making. Here’s hoping for an LP from Horsfall and company very soon.