Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New Fangled Folk: Live at the Redrooms, Perth

New Fangled Folk is the three way collaboration of Scottish singer-songwriters, Yvonne Lyon, Kim Edgar and David Ferrard. Last night - and as a farewell to The Redrooms at Perth Theatre which is set to close; they came together to provide two hours of charming, heart-warming and delightful entertainment.

Rather than each performing a solo-set, the set list rotated between the three - with the other two acting as the backing band for the artist featured on that number. This was perhaps a risky strategy - but it paid off handsomely, with not a hint of competition between the performers wanting to dampen the audiences enthusiasm for a rival's number! Instead, with Lyon (Lead or backing vocals, guitars and percussion), Edgar (Lead or backing vocals, piano or guitar) and Ferrard (Lead or backing vocals, guitar); they worked well together delivering Ferrard's more traditional folk, Edgar's more quirky, and Lyon's melodic songs,;very nicely indeed. They had obviously not thrown this set-together with undue haste, but had taken the time to construct and rehearse some beautiful, and sometimes surprising harmonies.

Yvonne Lyon kicked the gig off, with her song Everything's Fine, from her album "A Thousand Questions Why". Her upeat strumming, lovely voice and engaging lyrics immediately remind the listener of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. For anyone who remembers Yvonne from her former band "Land" (as Yvonne Whitty), this is a considerable change of style. Land had a bigger, and less folky, feel than her solo material, and where Land wore their faith on their sleeve, Lyon prefers to tease the listener towards bigger questions. With hints of American singer-songwriters, Suzanne Vega and Sarah Masen abounding; listening to Lyon is an effortlessly enjoyable experience.

Kim Edgar is a quite different performer from Lyon. Her songs are more offbeat (usually metaphorically, occasionally literally), and laced with social commentary too. The contrast is not just with the less edgy and more melodic Lyon; but also due to the fact that Edgar leads with the piano as her first instrument, which always gives a different feel. She gave a good performance, which the crowd appreciated, especially I think the diversity and versatility of her writing. I wondered on a couple of occasions if she was struggling very slightly vocally (her songs certainly demand quite a range), and wasn't altogether surprised to read of a previous gig in which she had lost her voice. Certainly her songs peaked when the quality of her songwriting was matched by the vocal delivery of her lead, accompanied by the swell of Lyon and Ferrard's creative harmony lines.

Ferrard describes his music as having been influenced by his dual Scots-American parentage, and he quite consciously explores the musical relationship between the folk tunes which originated here, but migrated Westwards and have found new life in places such as the Appalachian Mountains. Drawing on a much more traditional folk-sound than Lyon or Edgar, Ferrard uses his strong, distinctive voice to sing protest songs old and new, tell stories and invoke atmospheres. He sings like a combination of Don Maclean, John Denver and James Taylor, but with a lilt that sounds Irish to me!

The strength of the evening wasn't however in any of the individual performances, but in the variety they offered and the contributions they made to one another's material. Edgar's piano was essential on some of the others' tracks, as was Lyon's percussion and Ferrard's vocals. A "New Fangled Folk" gig isn't really a riotous, foot-stomping occasion, but more a reflective and very enjoyable evening in the company of some very talented people. The Perth crowd were rather understated in their appreciation, but nevertheless after they had closed with a Lyon lead "Down to the River" (Alison Krauss, from "O Brother, Where Art Thou), they were brought back on for an encore of a traditional Auld Lang Syne.

Altogether a fine evening's entertainment - and at £8head, I've paid a heck of a lot more for a lot les fun than this.


1 comment:

Perth Theatre said...

Hi there, message from Perth Theatre - Redrooms is not closing, we are just having a break from regular Monday Night Things at the mo. Happy to send a brochure so you can see what else is coming up.