Sometimes a voice can floor you. It can involuntarily grab your attention like an out-of-towner barging through the saloon swing doors in a clichéd Western film. It’s not a quantifiable attribute that can be measured by some sort of scale, it’s a reflex subconscious action that plays to those triggers inside you that an instrument can’t quite compare. The combination of the delivery, the lyrical message, the raw empathisable emotion that can spur reactions whether you want them or not. It’s an entirely personal thing and different intonations and inflections cause different reactions in different people, though some are undoubtedly more universal than others. There’s a soulful power behind Hayley Tucker’s delivery that clicks something inside and certainly falls into the broad appeal category. After discovering her voice many years ago on stage in a dirty basement bar in the west of London, halting me in my tracks, it’s both satisfying and relieving to hear it done justice to on this Moonlight EP release.
‘Moonlight’ leads things in gently, introducing a slide guitar to compliment the acoustic in an unmistakably Nashville manner that underpins the entire EP. This isn’t a modern take on the old classics, Hayley is taking steps to put herself in amongst the heroes of yesteryear. With the vocals so high in the mix, it’s a bold move and one that could easily fall flat on its face if she didn’t have the goods to pull it off.
‘Cold Side Of The Bed’ ups the blues ante, structured around a palatable 12-bar standard whose chorus hook gets under your skin. It’s the most playful track of the three and is the one where Hayley gets closest to putting some of her own signature to the music, distinguishing her from her peers as she saunters from the sultry to the soaring with ease.
As the arpeggiated ballad ‘Superstar’ brings the EP to a close, it’s evident that there’s no big single here, no flashy gimmicks behind what’s delivered, but instead a trio of simple, confident tracks which are inherently satisfying and beautifully recorded. It’s enough to demonstrate the reason why Hayley has gathered such a following amongst those that have been fortunate enough to catch her live. The seeds of identity don’t yet feel fully realised, but with a voice that good, you can hardly blame her for the doing her own take on the classics.