Review of Lau's album Arc Light
Fiddler Aidan O'Rourke, guitarist Kris Drever and accordionist Martin Green are Lau, and have been heavily tipped for great things this year. Lau are a traditional three-piece folk band from Scotland. Their name comes from an Orcadian word meaning 'natural light.' They're debut album 'Lightweights and Gentlemen' released in 2007 saw them win Best Group at the BBC Folk Awards in 2008. They have also released a live album and played at many folk festivals in America bring us their third album Arc Light. They have a strong following of passionate Scots and folk supporters behind them, with rave reviews about their live performances and a plethora of awards and support from the Scottish Arts Council. The album is something that I looked forward to getting into. I have to say that I was expecting to hear some vibrant and interesting Scottish folk, and I hoped to hear some wonderful sentiment to their traditions and to their passions. Lau has established a trademark sound that combines their influences, without sacrificing their virtues of traditional folk. The opening track The Burrian has a very authentic and uplifting feel to it. Exactly the sound you would expect to hear from a Scottish pub in the middle of nowhere brim full with whiskey soaked revellers in heavy wool jumpers. Ok that's a slightly stereotypical metaphor, but it does make you think about those sorts of Scottish ideals. Their music is repetitive yet full of movement, jolly but slightly sinister, from the off I felt as though Lau hadn't failed to bring me what I wanted from them. I did struggle a tad with the vocals, I think that the rawness of their live performances would assist the vocals to feel more grounded to the music, and it's a shame that it feels heavily produced for a folk sound. Unfortunately the vocals a little too clean sounding, so songs like 'Wintermoon' and Pete Seegers 'Banks of the Marble' sound a little out of place. Banks of the Marble is slightly grittier but it's still a shame that it's so clean. I had to have a little giggle at just how Scottish Kris Drever sounds on their cover of the Beatles 'Dear Prudence', but not in a horrible way. It's nice to hear their roots, and their influences and their unashamedly national influence. There is a more experimental forsake of this traditional Scottish sound, but they never throw it away entirely.
The music Lau create is beautiful to listen too, there is fabulous fiddling on Frank and Flo's, lotta F's there, and Horizontigo is an epic 7 mins long with various movements throughout it. All in all Arc Light is an interesting album and one to have in your music collection. I'm not sure how or when you would choose to listen to it, but I know that on the occasion you would put this album on it would be enjoyable.
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