REVEAL RECORDS 30.4.07
Is there a borderline between singer-songwriter and folk and why is it that I admire honest folk music and dislike soggy singer-songwriters? Kris Drever may exemplify the divide when he uses songs like the opening Steel And Stone to give a sense of place and the story song of Patrick Spence to place us in time. Not that this is a fol-de-rol in the olden days romp, just a singer working who knows where he is. The song is strong and uses hard tones, at the start a little like Ewan MacColl but thankfully softening. Witnesses for the singer-songwriter tendency are Roddy Woomble and Eddie Reader, for the folk branch, see Kate Rusby – all among the many guests here. Strengths are a willingness to sing the songs of others and traditional ditties, rather than polishing his own stick.
Kris is a third of kick-ass celtic dance band, Lau. Here he concentrates more on songs. A set of reels are kept contemporary with fore-front guitar. The cello is gorgeous on the jiggy Harvest Gypsies. There’s a lot of folks who won’t know the October arrival of the gypsies for the filthy and back-breaking work of tattie howking (picking potatoes). I remember the dank clay soil, freezing cold fingers and pitiful pay of those autumn days as a boy, alongside these strange visitors. Fause Fause is a reminder, as an ancient song, that betrayal and heartbreak are nothing new, nor is singing about them. Navigator rounds out the set – the Phil Gaston song that the Pogues covered too, hymning the Navvies who built the canals of Britain.
A strong collection of songs, really well played – deserves to replace the flavours of the month but won’t, however it’ll be around a lot lot longer.