Beyond the Blue by Rain Reserve, the singer-songwriting partnership of Lorna Reid and John Alexander had the second of their Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows this afternoon at the Jazz Bar in Chambers Street. As always this combination of two different writing styles and backgrounds (John is from Glasgow and Lorna is from Edinburgh) is bringing out the best in both artists and creating some very interesting words and music, and many of the songs in this set were getting their first public performance here at The Fringe.
John Alexander already has a solid reputation as an artist with an eye for close attention to the world around him and a writer of songs that reflect the landscapes around him and the working men and women who live their lives out upon it. Lorna Reid is also a gifted singer songwriter who is building up an impressive back catalogue of quality work across many different styles. Lorna is maybe still better known as one of the best jazz singers to come out of Scotland in a long time with her many shows with some of Scotland’s best jazz musicians to her credit, but “Rain Reserve” is the other side of Lorna as a performer – a skilled writer of Americana influenced country music. It is clear though in these new songs that Lorna, while still retaining that Americana country style to her music, is developing her own identity as an sharp observer of not only her own surroundings but the emotions of the people that she meets along the way.
Rain Reserve have another show in The Fringe still to do on Sunday 27th August, and if you have not yet made it along to the show, I don’t want to spoil the surprises of some of the new material as I think it should be heard for the first time with no reviewer giving away what to expect. The new songs build upon earlier ones like “Just Be Near” and “Nothing Without You”, but it is obvious that the writing partnership between John and Lorna is getting far tighter as each gets more instinctively comfortable with the other’s very individual style.
I have a big personal liking here for Rain Reserve, as both artists interest me as writers and performers in completely different ways, and this project sees neither of them going down that very tired old road of pretending to be “American Country Singers”. This is two individual artists combining to make something new with its own identity. Many of the songs here have more to do with the East and West coasts of Scotland than the East and West coasts of America. There are no gimmicks here on stage either, just two singers each with their guitar. There is nowhere to hide on stage here and the success of the show will depend completely on two factors – the quality of the performers and the quality of the music, and on both counts, Rain Reserve are meeting some very high scores for me.
Review by Tom King