By David Hennessy
An excited crowd squeezed into the intimate setting of Balham Bowls Club last Thursday to enjoy the musical talents of brother and sister team, Luke and Charlotte Ritchie. Singer-songwriter Luke released his stunning debut album, The Water’s Edge last year and has since been touring and supported Gemma Hayes at Bush Hall.
Charlotte is well known from her role as Oregon in Channel 4 student sitcom, Fresh Meat and also as a member of classical crossover group, All Angels. Last year the siblings toured British universities performing together. The cosy sitting room feel of the venue was quite apt as this was a local gig for the Ritchies: Close to home and with many friends in support (including Charlotte’s All Angels’ bandmate, Daisy Chute).
“It feels really different doing a gig like this because it feels like you can do anything you want really,” Charlotte told The Irish World after the show. “You feel more free to try things out. It’s a really nice feeling.”
Luke adds: “I felt the same. I’ve wanted to do something local for ages, something where I can feel relaxed. The owner really likes it so I think we’re gonna make this a regular residency which is lovely because you can have a regular live outlet where you can try stuff out. At the moment we’re trying a lot of new arrangements, a lot of new songs that we need to take out and play and see what happens. I’m really pleased with it, I really enjoyed it.”
Support act Laura Swain and Andrew Dunn got the evening off to a great start as they entertained not only with their beautiful ballads but also with Laura’s entertaining and humorous introductions to each song.
Andrew then accompanied Luke and Charlotte as they performed a set that included tracks from Luke’s album such as Butterfly, The Lighthouse and Lonely Second as well as introducing some new songs. Their harmonies are beautiful and quite obviously the result of so many years singing together. Could we see the brother and sister collaborating on an album in the near future? “Yeah, I’d love to,” Luke answers. “I think we’re going to try and do something whether it’s an album or not, we’re working out. We’re definitely going to release something. We’re working on some tracks.”
Charlotte adds: “Luke is the writer. We’re trying to make songs that combine our voices a lot more. We’ve sung together for a while now and it would be a shame not to make a recording of it.”
And it is because he has been so busy writing that we haven’t seen Luke performing live so much of late: “It’s funny, I just haven’t been gigging much because I’ve been writing. It’s been weird to write again because it was a good year and a half hiatus with touring, it’s been quite a step to go back to writing again. I’m quite a slow writer and Charlotte’s quite good at kicking me and making me, we meet up quite regularly. We’ve been meeting up most days and chipping away at stuff. I’m feeling quite positive about where we’re going. The writing phase is so different to playing so it’s a big mental shift. I’m not gigging as much but it’s still important to gig because we reconnect with how a song is actually gonna work with an audience.”
Actress and singer Charlotte then says: “It sounds like encouragement but sometimes I just beat him down. The thing is I’ve listened to Luke for ages, years and years, so I feel that I know his style quite well and I know all his songs quite well and I feel Luke allows me to be judgemental and if he doesn’t agree, he says he doesn’t agree but yeah, we meet a lot and chat about songs quite openly which is good.”
The pair combined on Luke’s Right Then and There which led to Charlotte’s two worlds meeting: “What’s nice is I sang on a song with Luke when he played Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush last year. I put it on my Twitter and one of the guys who does the music for Fresh Meat loved it and put it on one of the episodes so it was really great because it brought the two worlds together so people who like Fresh Meat might like what Luke does and what I do.”
“The response has been awesome to that,” Luke enthuses. “I’ve been really overwhelmed with what a great response it’s had from people. I love the series, I really enjoy watching it so that was great.”
Speaking of Fresh Meat, Charlotte starts shooting the third series this week. Will such a commitment make it difficult for her to sing with her brother? “This coming series will be difficult to juggle but I think we’re gonna try and make it work, to try and do some stuff, record stuff together so yeah, it should be okay.”
For the full feature, see the May 18 print edition of The Irish World.