Malachy Tallack



THE folk-club ambience doesn't come much more authentic than at the Royal Oak pub in Edinburgh's South Side, where the bar holds a crowd of 30, without a microphone in sight. Young Shetland singer-songwriter Malachy Tallack is well-used to such intimate gigs. As he pointed out, a recent show he played back home on Fair Isle, along with a six-piece band, featured a tenth of the local population onstage.

Not that Tallack's songs seek mileage out of any quaint or couthy backstory. His writing sits confidently in a contemporary roots-pop vein, echoing both the leftfield Americana of Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter and the folk-based balladry of Ralph McTell. Strong melodies and memorable choruses underpinned the up-tempo material, featuring tasty acoustic guitar work from sidekick Stephen Laurenson. Lyrically, Tallack showed himself unafraid to tackle big subjects; Last Man Standing, for instance, imagining the thoughts of Britain's sole remaining Great War veteran. Equally brave were a handful of stripped-bare slower numbers, their fragility offset by the warmth of Tallack's singing.