Gig review: Sharon King, St Andrews in the Square

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For over a decade now, Edinburgh’s Sharon King has been fruitfully ploughing the DIY singer-songwriter furrow, funding her own recordings and tours, steadily building her reputation as a distinctively talented, widely appealing yet thoughtfully eloquent vocalist and lyricist.

She’s released four well-received albums to date, with the brand-new Nothing = Everything picking up some of her strongest reviews yet, marking as it does a further refinement of her contemporary folk/country blend, subtly infused with her native accents and sensibilities.

Besides King’s rhythmic self-accompaniment on a parlour-sized guitar, her current Reckless Angels trio sees her skilfully and sympathetically backed by Amy Geddes on fiddle and viola, and Vera van Heeringen on lead guitar and mandolin, each also contributing to a wealth of lovely vocal harmonies, encompassing both the sweetly lambent and the darkly piquant. King’s own singing combined a febrile, urgent upper-edge, a sensuously throaty, lived-in middle register and a resonantly grainy underlay, adroitly shifting to match the content of each song. Her imagination and subject-matter ranged engrossingly wide, from a fictional life laid to rest in a Highland Cemetery (Josie) to the modern bane of celebrity cellulite-spotting and the like (Newspaper Headlines); from late-night musings on her home town (The Lion and the Unicorn) to a half-tender, half-fearful song for her daughter (Darling Pal of Mine). Lovingly arranged and delivered, weaving in delicate strains of bluegrass, swing, jazz and acoustic pop, this was a finely crafted set from a thoroughly seasoned performer: catch her on tour around Scotland over the next 10 days.

Rating: ****