Sam Sweeney and Emily Portman

Songs of death and despair can be a little spine-chilling at the best of times; combined with a slighty nippy Spiegeltent it could be quite hard to find some respite.

Luckily Emily Portman and Sam Sweeney’s folk collaboration made up for both the disappointing May weather and the slightly morbid topics with the strength and quality of the pair’s vocals.

This was a stripped back performance with minimal accompaniment from violin, banjo, or concertina, as the two played both together and solo.

Sweeney’s standout song was from his new touring show Made In The Great War, with lyrics by East Anglian storyteller Hugh Lupton; the clarity of his singing was impressive.

For her part, Portman charmed with her own original pieces charting tales of mermaids and sea-goddesses, and odd trips to underground burial chambers in Wales.

The collaboration between the two is still relatively new – this Norfolk and Norwich Festival gig was only their second live outing together – and that uncertainty showed a little, but it is bound to deepen in time. Unlike most of their songs, this tale could have a happy ending.