Heidi Talbot presented the last of her curated showcases as part of the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh 40th anniversary as a music venue celebrations (QH40), and this one tonight was a little bit special for anyone who appreciates the art of “The Songwriter”. On tonight’s list of performers were Hannah Rarity, Kathryn Williams, Boo Hewerdine, and of course compere and performer, Heidi Talbot.
Our evening opened with Heidi Talbot and long-time friend Boo Hewerdine and, as always, there is something about Heidi’s vocals that is difficult to define, but at the same time makes any song that she sings unique and identifiable as hers, and “If You Stay” is a perfect song for Heidi to sing. Another perfect song, this time with Boo Hewerdine, is “Angels Without Wings”, with the change to electric guitar by Heidi in the three opening songs adding a distinctly different sound this time round. Electric or acoustic guitar, it does not really matter at all as Heidi Talbot is always interesting on stage and deserves far more recognition as a singer/songwriter than she sometimes gets.
Taking us back to perhaps more traditional roots, our first solo guest of the evening was Hannah Rarity, winner of BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2018, and it was interesting to see how this young musician is blending her own music into the fabric of traditional songs, and doing it almost seamlessly.
For many, including myself, one of the highlights of this show was the chance to catch a solo set from Boo Hewerdine, and songs like “Bell, Book and Candle” and “Patience of Angels” illustrate effortlessly why this man is one of the great songwriters of his generation with an ability to put into words and music what is often in people’s hearts. Nice too this evening to have these songs accompanied with a very dry and focused humour in between them.
Keeping the standard of songwriting high this evening was Kathryn Williams, a songwriter who has a playful and at times unexpected use of words to weave stories of the wonder of everyday life around her into songs. Kathryn Williams also at the moment has a career encompassing release by her record label One Little Indian (Bjork) of her 20cd, two book “Anthology” box set that spans her 20 years of making music.
People keep saying that “They don’t write songs like that anymore”. Well, the truth is that they do, you just have to take yourself away from the banality of reality television music shows and out into a music venue like The Queen’s Hall to find them, but when you do, it is more than worth the effort.
Review by Tom King