I’m not ready to leave this city yet,” sings folk singer Megan Henwood in a concert on home turf at the Holywell Music Rooms in Oxford.

The defiant statement comes from her song The Dolly, one of her best numbers on 2017 album The River.

The Dolly is, of course, the predecessor to The Cellar, in Frewin Court, off Cornmarket, now under threat of closure. The singer used Saturday’s concert at the ornate music rooms to plead with the audience to do everything they can to save The Cellar, pointing out that any reduction in venues is bad for musicians’ livelihoods.

While Ms Henwood, who lives off Iffley Road, is not ready to leave Oxford, she is certainly willing to broaden her horizons and, after teaming up with Scottish singer Findlay Napier at a song-writing retreat, they are touring as the Story Song Scientists to trial their new co-written songs on audiences in England and Scotland.

The night is a feast of folk delivered in three parts. Megan is first up and is in good voice, playing songs from River, and older numbers including the catchy Chemicals from 2015’s collection Head, Heart, Hand.

Perhaps she’s a little nervous as she fluffs the guitar intro on one song but the audience is polite and forgiving.

Then Findlay plays a selection from his 2017 album Glasgow, quirky first-person pieces all about his home city. He’s got good banter and gets the crowd singing along to Glasgow and Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice.

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Finally it’s time for what some people have been waiting for – The Story Song Scientists and both singers take the to the stage wearing lab coats.

Some songs work better than others but Unnameable Radio, about an American DJ coming to the rescue of a suicidal late-night listener is belted out with great gusto, proving that songwriting experiments can work very well.

ANDY FFRENCH

4/5

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