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The opening weekend of Celtic Connections always brings about fervent excitement, and this year is no exception with a procession featuring a ginormous mechanical wicker puppet traipsing through the city. As always, there is a plethora of big name artists performing across the city, however there is plenty to be found away from the bigger venues. The proof is found this evening where adopted Glaswegian Molly Linen plays a headline show in the intimate confines of The Hug & Pint.
Warming up for Linen is Los Angeles native Sofia Wolfson. On the last date of her debut UK tour, she exudes charm throughout her set. Promoting EP ‘Adulting’, released last year, she follows in the success of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus in emotionally-charged songs dripping in self-deprecation. Recent single ‘Party Favours’ gets the packed crowd onside early, and the jaunty ‘Johnny Cash’ is a wonderful highlight. Wolfson has a humour and lyrical wit beyond her years, and thanks the appreciative crowd by dryly commenting that she only played to five people the night before, before ending on a brand new song, only written the previous week, hinting that bigger success is still on the horizon for the twenty year old singer-songwriter.
Molly Linen follows up by unassumingly appearing onstage and beginning her set with a whisper-quiet first song which is so whisper-quiet that it takes some audience members a minute or so to realise that her set has started. Her four-piece band eventually joins her and, despite a false start due to tuning issues, there is no mistaking their presence from here on out. It is clear that Linen is initially nervous, but once into her stride, her beguiling vocal silences the room and after a dreamy ‘Waited Long’, she is far more at ease.
Debut EP ‘Outside’ was released late last year and it is primarily tracks from this that she performs this evening. ‘Away’ is drenched with a Jeff Buckley-esque jangle and the gorgeous ‘When They Didn’t Care’ is complemented with wonderful harmonies from keys player Beth Chalmers. The new songs she plays, however, provide additional depth and the Americana-inspired ‘Crossing With Lines’, in particular, is exceptional.
As Linen closes on the anthemic ‘Outside’, she leaves the stage with an audience still transfixed by performance of wondrous allure. Together with opener Wolfson, Celtic Connections have again curated an excellent bill of two terrific talents.
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