Double trouble as Ward Thomas twins Plug Sheffield show

Ward Thomas are playing Plug in Sheffield. Picture: Rebecca Miller.
Ward Thomas are playing Plug in Sheffield. Picture: Rebecca Miller.
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It comes as a surprise when Lizzy Ward-Thomas answers the phone with a stunning cut-glass British accent.

Indeed, Lizzy is one half of country duo Ward Thomas – twin sister Catherine is the other half whose southern-style guitar licks are as country as the Nashville skyline, hardly the sort of music you associate with a BBC English accent.

Lizzy and Catherine sing in harmonies, wear cowboy boots, denim jackets and play acoustic guitars – they are every bit as country as any Dixie Chicks song.

But while their sound is drenched in this southern-fried style, they are also a quintessentially English outfit.

Lyrics track the pairs’ life growing up in a quiet country village in Hampshire.

It is this that makes them so unique.

Indeed, it is no surprise that within months of establishing the band, the pair had appeared on national TV, were whisked off to Nashville, the home of country music, to record and are now celebrating the release of their debut album, From Where We Stand.

Yet in spite of all the trips to Nashville in Tennessee, USA, the pair remain true to their English roots.

Lizzy says: “We were brought up around the Hampshire countryside and that’s formed our lives and lyrics so far.

“Our grandma also used to sing Loretta Lynn to us, and that made a big impression on us.”

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The surrounding countryside, Loretta Lynn and the injection of a Canadian cousin, created a country-infused creative cauldron, in which Ward Thomas brewed their sound.

Lizzy says: “We had this cousin who came and stayed with us when we were younger.

“She lived in Canada and introduced us to artists like the Dixie Chicks and they had a huge influence on us.

“The melodies and the fact they told so many stories in their songs made a big impression on us.

“We grew up spending 24/7 with each other, so we are in tune with each other as people and that helps with harmonies.”

The band fused this melodic sensibility with a ‘British’ flair for witty, quirky songwriting.

Lizzy says: “One of our songs, A Town Called Ugley, is about this day when we were supposed to be playing at a wedding, but we got so lost trying to find it.

“The wedding venue was only 20 minutes from where we set off but we got really lost and ended up in Essex.

“It took two hours and we were held up by closed roads, broken down tractors and then ended up in Ugley.

“By this point it started to become funny because everything had ‘Ugley’ attached it, like ‘The Ugley Women’s Institute’, but the more I laughed, the more cross my sister got because she was doing all the driving.”

Other songs relate to more universal experiences, as Lizzy explains.

“Push the Stride is about picking yourself up when you’re having a bad day,” she says. “We both grew up riding horses and when it came to jumps we would be told to ‘push for the stride.”

But none of this would have happened were it not for their singing teacher at school.

“We were very lucky because our singing teacher used to be a session singer in Nashville,” Lizzy says. “She heard one of our songs and told some of her Nashville music colleagues about us.”

“Nashville iss an amazing city. Everywhere you go there is music playing. They say that in Nashville the chances are that the man working in the supermarket will be a better musician than you. It’s great.”

Ward Thomas play Plug on Monday, March 30. Support comes from Jessica Ridley and Laura Oakes. For tickets, priced £11, visit www.the-plug.com

Lizzy says: “We can’t wait. We've got a full band and we're going to have a fabulous time."