Gig review: Rozi Plain, Edinburgh

With its main driving force Johnny ‘Pictish Trail’ Lynch now resident on the Isle of Eigg, forays into the central belt by his excellent cottage label Lost Map have become rarer and more essential than ever. That was particularly so in this case, given it marked the launch of a national tour by Winchester-raised, London-based singer-songwriter Rozi Plain in support of her excellent new third album Friend.

Rozi Plain: a folksy voice which bears a hint of Sandy Denny
Rozi Plain: a folksy voice which bears a hint of Sandy Denny

Rozi Plain - Summerhall, Edinburgh

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Playing with local favourites Eagleowl and Supermoon (the solo project of Neil Pennycook, formerly of Meursault) in support, this was a show well-suited to the intimate but atmospheric confines of Summerhall’s Dissection Room bar, recently co-opted as an eminently suitable space for live music. Plain’s hour-long set was an exercise in affecting restraint, with the three players alongside her – including Fifer Gerard Black, formerly of sublime Glasgow indie group Findo Gask – sometimes reduced to redundancy, such was the delicacy of her playing and arrangements.

Plain’s songs are founded on a breathy, folksy voice which bears a hint of Sandy Denny and a backing of softly-picked guitar and lightly-hit drums which is at once gossamer-light and tightly-controlled. Tracks like Humans and Five Beans breezed past in a dreamy haze, but were anything but insubstantial, while her finest compositions were the ones which took this unhurried aesthetic and married it with a sharp pop edge. Friend City, for example, shuffled to a slowed-down afro beat groove which reminded of Talking Heads, while Jogalong floated on a lovely, Krautrock-echoing synth, both irresistible but anything but try-hard.

Seen on 1 May