Review : Kris Drever - Mark The Hard Earth
GuardianHe may be best-known as the guitarist with that bravely experimental trio Lau (who won best group for the third year running at last month's Folk awards), but Kris Drever has all the makings of a solo celebrity. Born in Orkney, he moved south to join the freewheeling Edinburgh folk scene, in which musicians are constantly swapping styles and playing in different bands – so it's no surprise that this latest solo album should feature an impressive and varied cast. The Scottish contingent includes that exquisite fiddle player and producer John McCusker, along with members of Capercaille. They are joined by the Irish singer Heidi Talbot, and the celebrated American bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Tim O'Brien, playing bozouki, mandolin, ukele, fiddle and banjo. This is very different from a Lau set, for Drever concentrates not on instrumentals, improvisation and virtuoso guitar playing, but on his sturdy vocal work. The songs range from the self-composed title track to a slinky piece from Boo Hewerdine and a couple of ballads from that fine veteran Edinburgh songwriter Sandy Wright, which are as unashamedly emotional as great country songs. A classy set....full text
BbcFresh from winning a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Group with his ‘day job’ band Lau, this Scottish singer, guitarist and occasional songwriter releases his second solo set.
After a debut as great as 2006’s Black Water almost anything would disappoint. But while Mark the Hard Earth doesn’t quite reach the heights of that record, it is still impressive, and has a strong, slow-growing charm.
Drever has assembled much the same team of players, with Roy Dodds (drums) Ewen Vernal (bass), Donald Shaw (keyboards) and guitarist Ian Carr serving him well, as does fiddler and producer John McCusker. Irish American multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien is the most distinctive new collaborator, adding the sonic equivalent of subtle marker pen highlights to many songs with his mandolin, banjo, ukulele and harmony vocals. Irish singer Heidi Talbot is the other novice, duetting with Drever on The Banks of the Nile, the most familiar piece on a selection which, as before, mixes old and new writing....full text
ClashmusicSometimes you encounter a voice that has that indefinable something: it conveys emotion, commands attention and sounds unapologetically lived in. Kris Drever is not only the owner of one of these voices, but he’s also one of folk music’s great hopes. He is rightly lauded for his impassioned moulding of traditional sounds into contemporary songs that have the capacity to melt the heart. With a more complex sonic palette than his debut, ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ contains a number of absolute gems. The highlight, ‘The Crown Of London’, features a truly beautiful cascading guitar part that you’ll not be able to forget in a hurry....full text
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