Gig review: Kris Drever and Eamonn Coyne, Edinburgh

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CURRENTLY on the road promoting their new second album, Storymap, the Orcadian/Irish partnership of Lau singer/guitarist Kris Drever and banjo ace Eamonn Coyne – here also featuring just as prominently on tenor guitar – resoundingly affirmed their standing as one of the folk scene’s most consummately attuned duos.

Kris Drever and Eamonn Coyne

Pleasance Cabaret Bar, Edinburgh

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Having first discovered their rare musical rapport via the Edinburgh session scene well over a decade ago, and with Coyne also a regular acompanist on Drever’s solo outings, they share a repertoire vastly exceeding those two joint releases, so while Storymap material formed a fair proportion of the set, as did tracks off its much-loved predecessor, Honk Toot Suite, there were plenty of additional treats from Drever’s own albums and elsewhere.

Fans of Drever’s singing and the pair’s uncannily intricate, marvellously supple instrumental interaction were equally richly served, with particular standouts in the former vein including a gorgeously wistful, almost prayerful Mark the Hard Earth, and the desperate intensity of Poor Man’s Son, between them epitomising Drever’s soulful vocal warmth and his emotional immersion in his material.

Among the top fingerpicking workouts were a positive firestorm of virtuosity unleashed by Coyne in the course of a mazurka, a Donegal highland and a “crooked reel”, and the supremely relaxed Teddy Bear Jigs.

Swapping lead, harmony and rhythm roles back and forth with masterful fluency, shading in an array of dynamic contrast and vibrantly shifting colours, this was music that richly redoubled the already formidable sum of its parts.