Cortnë @ The Glad Cafe, Glasgow, 13 Oct

Southside singer-songwriter Cortnë celebrates her first EP Florescence with a sold-out show at The Glad Cafe

Live Review by Tara Hepburn | 18 Oct 2023
  • Cortnë

It’s a Friday night and The Glad Cafe is sold out. Southside singer-songwriter Cortnë is launching her first EP, Florescence, and the enthusiasm in the room is infectious. Originally scheduled as a seated gig, it was quickly changed to standing to allow more people to attend. The room is packed early on, with the crowd keen to take in the support slots from Mike McKenzie and Abbie Gordon. The latter is another young local talent who performs a confident set – an energetic slice of guitar pop which goes down well with the attentive audience.

The atmosphere in the room feels celebratory, and not without good reason. Things have been going well for Cortnë lately. Her unique brand of dreamy folk-pop has seen her racking up plaudits from radio stations, and even a nod from BBC Introducing. It comes as a surprise, then, when she reveals how frightened she was to perform at local unplugged nights just months previously. “I have an EP launch! I have to be able to do this!” she recalls. That extra stage time seems to have stood her in good stead – she has an assured stage presence. Performing the last half of her 45-minute set solo, without the aid of her backing band, any nervousness seems long gone.

Florescence showcases Cortnë’s skills very well; from clever funny lyrics, to soaring melodies and intricate guitar work, there is so much to enjoy here. Angel, a delicate finger-plucked guitar ballad is the highlight of the night. The song explores the swirl of jealous, torturing thoughts that land on you when someone you love moves on. "Do you think she’s an angel?" she ponders, the song itself looping like an intrusive thought might.

Much of the record’s charm lies in Cortnë’s strikingly candid lyrics. The pre-show playlist featured a lot of Phoebe Bridgers songs, and it's easy to draw comparisons between the two lyrically. These are delicate lilting songs, with raw emotional intensity at their heart. Lungs bops along like a twee indie anthem but is knotty and dark: "I’m ashamed to be me, to know you / That I let you do the things that I let you do."

Cortnë is a captivating performer with serious talent; it's easy to imagine exciting things ahead for her. To catch her at this early juncture feels like a privilege – a really special and edifying evening.