Music review: Out Lines, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Out Lines, featuring Kathryn Joseph, James Graham and Marcus Mackay
Out Lines, featuring Kathryn Joseph, James Graham and Marcus Mackay
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Supergroups aren’t much in fashion these days, with bands formed from the merger of disparate individual talents more likely to occur - bands such as Out Lines, a collection of more low-key talents without huge egos. The irony here is that those involved in Out Lines are the kind of people who should be receiving widespread attention, particularly Scottish Album of the Year Award-winner 2015 Kathryn Joseph and James Graham, singer with Kilsyth’s vastly underrated post-rock group The Twilight Sad.

Out Lines, Summerhall, Edinburgh ****

First getting together as part of a project commission by the Platform arts centre in Easterhouse, Glasgow, the duo and producer-drummer Marcus Mackey recorded and released the album Conflats last year. Played in its entirety here, it’s a record which is by turns mournful and powerful, fusing the cold snap of Graham’s electronic production with the folksy warmth of Joseph’s harmonium on tracks such as Buried Guns and Our Beloved Dead. Their voices complement one another perfectly, each tinged with a certain regret, the otherworldly perfection of Joseph’s distinctive tone balancing the parts where Graham gets so emotional that his vocal threatens to crack.

After an unlikely but perfectly adapted take on Abba’s Lay All Your Love on Me (“It gets the loudest cheer of the night and we didn’t even write the f***in’ thing,” sighed Graham), the band took a moment to sign off on what might have been the final show they play together, the project in its current shape having come to an end. “Thank you for understanding what we were trying to do with the album,” said Graham before These Three Desire Lines. “If this is the last time we do this it’s been a pleasure.” It’s nice to think they’ll be back together somehow, although the next phases in their own careers are waiting for them.