When a Kris Drever solo album comes out, it's a relatively rare delight. If you take the intervals between "Black Water" in 2006, "Mark the Hard Earth" in 2010 and 2016's "If Wishes Were Horses" as a number pattern, then the next one is due in 2024. If you're assuming he's been twiddling his thumbs in between, then you only have to skim-read his discography to see that all of his digits have been decisively and dynamically twiddly in the time between solo works, on collaborative releases with Eamonn Coyne, with Boo Hewerdine, with John McCusker and Roddy Woomble, and as the engine room of stalwart folk futurists, Lau.
Having recorded "If Wishes Were Horses" with a band featuring Ian Carr, Louis Abbott and Euan Burton, he took some of those songs on the road on his own recently, stripping them back to suit just a single guitar and his richly sonorous vocal tones. Such is the scope of the sound he makes with six strings (the man has skills), even 'stripped back' Drever often sounds like there's more than one guitarist at play.
A long way from his current dwelling place on Shetland with his wife and young son, Contact Music caught up with Kris before a recent gig in Radstock (surely a great name for an 80s revival festival). After a mouth-watering and tantalising conversation about the holistic delights of a well-made coffee and Kris' garage full of home-brewed beer back home, we got round to talking about some of his better-known creative processes.
Continue reading: Kris Drever - Interview
On the map, the town of Radstock may be close to Glastonbury, but close to Glastonbury it ain't. What manifold joys, therefore, to catch Orcadian folk titan, Kris Drever at the town's small but perfectly-formed arts hub, The Victoria Hall, and on a Friday night too. Similar can be said of Canadian singer/songwriter, Kaia Kater, supporting mostly with material from her own 2016 album, "Nine Pin", with brooding, bleeding-heart banjo and a vocal evocative of Rhiannon Giddens. With the obsessive "Saint Elizabeth", where a sinner falls in love with a saint, she very much saved the best (and creepiest) til last.
Following on where Kaia Kater left off thematically and ecumenically, Kris Drever emerged, dressed in fully-buttoned-up black shirt, black jeans and black trainers, merely a dog collar and a rendition of "My Lovely Horse" short of a casting in Father Ted. Subsequent to his biggest solo album to date, 2016's "If Wishes Were Horses", he has recently toured with Ian Carr and with Boo Hewerdine, but he has also performed solo much more often than before. Most of us know him as the engine room of Lau (what would happen if Marvel did nu-folk superheroes) or as the Celtically-connected collaborator-in-chief, adorning refrains by Eddi Reader or Julie Fowlis, so to have to ourselves his virtuoso guitar picking, his moreish-single-malt baritone, his songwriting craft and his borderline-parched, dry humour made this Friday night headliner worthy of Worthy Farm any day of the week.
Opening with "Beads and Feathers" from "Black Water", there was no easing us in, with fast fingers and percussive feet foremost. After proudly declaring 'All songs tonight will be about Brexit and Trump', he then proceeded to pull out something more broken and elegantly disconsolate in Lau's "Winter Moon" ('If the moon had a hangover.'). It soon became clear to all that the production and reception of Drever's music is a full-body, all-consuming experience. Our movements were irresistible but sedentary and seat-bound - tapping toes and nodding heads, but Drever's freer movements and vivid expressions made for intense viewing. Slower tracks brought a curled-lip Elvis snarl or the ruminative, closed-eyes, nostrils-flared look of an intense master sommelier. Quicker tracks brought frugging shoulders and funky-chicken neck thrusts. He couldn't keep still and neither could we.
Continue reading: Kris Drever - Victoria Hall, Radstock - 10.03.17 Live Review
2016 looks doomed to be the year that a millionaire, pig's-head-porking Prime Minister decided to 'let the people speak', blithely assuming to the bitter end that the good people of Sunderland must speak like he does.
Those from across the pond, will probably write it off as the year they ended up hiring a billionaire, tiny-handed, Shredded-Wheat-haired fanny-grabber as Commander-in-Chief. Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it...
Praise be, then, for the gift of music, and all of its artistry, its erudition and its social commentary. What more welcoming and uplifting distraction could we have had than the musical creativity that graced us in the last twelve months? Here are ten antidotes to the malaise that was 2016.
Continue reading: Jon Kean's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
Album review of Before The Ruin by Drever, McCusker and Woomble.
Continue reading: Drever, McCusker and Woomble, Before The Ruin Album Review