Thursday, 25 August 2016

Songwriting Talents Old and New(ish). Edinburgh Festivals 2

My first compilation piece from Edinburgh is in the Morning Star today. It includes the Angel review in last Thursday's blog, and also a review of Road - Jim Cartwright's slice of Lancashire life under Thatcher (to be posted later) - and two reviews of singer songwriters. Rab Noakes has been around for a little while now. and made a triumphant return after a break fighting cancer. While Roy Harper's son Nick, is not a callow youth (he first recorded in 1994 for f***'s sake!) his live set now has the kind of range and depth that deserve bigger audiences than Edinburgh's Jazz Bar can provide. The full reviews of both artists are below.

Rab Noakes – Acoustic Music Centre - August 14 – (*****) 
Noakes returned to the fringe after a year out – fighting tonsillar cancer – and delivered a superbly
Rab Noakes. pic by Alan McMillan
polished and sparkling solo set.
Although he understandably concentrated on his newest album – I’m Walking Here – for the largest number of the tracks, he also went back into the history for Branch (his best-known single) and Jackson Greyhound – a reflection on the civil rights fight in the Southern States.
As must be an occupational hazard with songwriters, Noakes has used his fight against cancer to inspire new songs – in particular the defiant, That won’t Stop me! And the more reflective Water is my Friend.
Add in some treatments of other songwriters’ material – like Michael Marra’s The Guernsey Kitchen Porter – and you have a full picture of a singer-songwriter back on top of his game. It’s good to see him back! He's got a show in Cupar in October.
Nick Harper. pic by Mark Hunt
Nick Harper – The Jazz Bar – until August 27 (then on tour) (****)
Harper’s unique guitar playing ensured his talents as musician and writer are displayed to the full.
Son of singer-songwriter Roy, Harper uses a finger-picking style all of his own. As his song Simple proclaims, he has ‘everything he needs, no drums, no bass’ to produce intelligent, articulate songs.
A short set nevertheless marked both the passing of Prince (Purple Rain) and Evo – his tribute to Bolivian President Evo Morales.
His undoubted talent deserves a bigger venue than this.

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