Percy Copley is a talented guy. Musician, entertainer, actor and teacher with 24 years of playing and singing for Disney under his strap, Percy knows a thing or two about performing. Now with his feet firmly back in the UK, Percy is putting his ukulele talents to good use on the live circuit and luckily for us some of that talent has been captured in the recording studio.
“One Afternoon” is a CD of just voice and ukulele adding a graceful and elegant tone to a collection of songs encompassing traditional acoustic styles such as country, blues, folk and Tin Pan Alley from appropriate artists Fats Waller, Gillian Welch and Lyle Lovett. As you may well have guessed from the title, the whole thing was recorded in front of a couple of microphones in a single one afternoon, the result of a dare from engineer David Rolland perhaps wary Christmas was only two days away at the time.
As well as the uke (played since a young age), Percy is an accomplished banjo and mandolin player and this musical diversity oozes into his ukulele approach which seems very focused on a fast and integrate picking style which, rather than hurrying a song along, has a clever way of adding a relaxed quality to his performance. Coupled with his far ranging and warm vocal style, the outcome is rather uplifting, certainly accomplished, giving the album an unusual combination of being both driven yet laid back at the same time.
Two of my personal favourite tracks are rather unusually at the distant ends of the track list. The first track, If I Had A Boat (Lyle Lovett) is a gorgeous rendition of this modern country song. The sweetly and nimbly picked ukulele I rather favour over the guitar track of the original and Percy makes a fine job of the vocals giving the whole tune more of a British folk sound in contrast with its Texan roots.
All 12 songs are wonderfully done, I do wish to stress that, but I must jump to the final track to hi-light my other particular favoured choice, My Dear Someone by Gillian Welch, another modern singer-writer in the Americana mould. Percy has raised this soothing waltz in key and through a lovely 3/4 rhythmic ukulele strum has infused an Hawaiian style into the performance, one can almost hear the lapping waves and slide guitar without the need for them to be there. His gentle yet reaching voice simply adds to this Hawaiian lilt; it really is cleverly done and really rather graceful.
With a characteristic style of beautiful picking and affable vocals, Percy’s afternoon of acoustic music has percolated into the microphone to harvest a tender and highly likeable collection.