Gig review: Kathryn Joseph, The Hug and Pint

Kathryn Joseph is now beginning to enjoy her success. Picture: Jannica Honey
Kathryn Joseph is now beginning to enjoy her success. Picture: Jannica Honey
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KATHRYN Joseph’s vintage piano, it’s front panel removed so you could see all the delicate mechanisms working inside, provided a useful visual analogy for how the Aberdonian singer-songwriter blind-sided almost everyone to win the 2015 Scottish Album of the Year Award with her debut Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled.

Kathryn Joseph

The Hug And Pint, Glasgow

Star rating: ****

Motivated by the tragic death of a child, the record is a scarily powerful and revealing poetic insight into the internal tugging of fragile heart strings, captured with haunting intimacy and grace.

Consider that another similarly emotionally raw record in RM Hubbert’s Thirteen Lost and Found won the 2013 SAY Award – and Hubbert was in the crowd at this sold-out show – and perhaps Joseph’s triumph isn’t such a surprise after all. Certainly Marcus and Claire Mackay, the husband and wife team behind Hits the Fan Records, who have helped launch this 40-year-old’s belated career as they once did Frightened Rabbit’s, have long recognised her talent. Marcus Mackay performed with her live, sparsely and softly brushing, beating and bowing drums and cymbals while striking rumbling low notes on a bass synthesiser.

It was all the augmentation Joseph’s austere torch-songs required, sung in a cracked, trembling, almost childlike voice with shades of Joanna Newsom and Sharon Van Etten. Mournful new single The Bird and the gently twinkling The Crow were particular standouts.

There were lovely moments of funny levity too from an artist once wracked by self-doubt but evidently growing accustomed to her sudden success. “I think I might actually enjoy this,” Joseph joked at the start, and the triumphant smile she wore by the end suggested she surely had.

Seen on 01.08.15