Kris Drever

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. Theres a lot of folks who wont 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 wont, however itll be around a lot lot longer.

Ross McGibbon