Kris Drever

Mark the Hard Earth

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For someone who's done so much work, it seems surprising that this is just Kris Drever's second solo album. It's been four years since the first, but fans will agree it's been worth the wait. Although it gets off to a slow start, by the fourth track, "Allegory," everything is burning with a fine fire. Drever might be the closest Scotland has to an alt-country singer and songwriter, with a very open, straightforward style. He's not a prolific composer, having a hand in only two of the songs here, but he's a good one, especially powerful as an interpreter of the tradition. His take on "The Banks of the Nile," setting it to a tune not previously associated with it, is a masterstroke, as it puts everything in a new context and forces a reassessment. His guitar work is lovingly understated, his voice unstudied, casual, and charming. Heidi Talbot makes a good vocal foil for him, and there's no faulting the musicians working with him, an intercontinental array of stars. It's not the kind of disc to strike you over the head on a first listening, but it certainly grows, a keeper to be treasured and played year after year.

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