I can’t remember when I first heard of Black & Water by Kris Drever. Probably about 10 years ago, and probably while he was still touring it on the folk scene.
It’s an album that I feel I often forget how good it is. (I.e. very very good.) It has some original songs on it, but much of it is trad. But he pulls off this delicate balance of reworking the trad with a very contemporary sound. He changes a fair bit of the harmony, whilst still keeping the trad elements intact. In other words, I think he prioritises sounding good over being ‘authentically’ trad. Which definitely works for me. There are bands that perform early music like The City Waites, who focus on creating a sense of what the songs and tunes would actually have sounded like, and that is also great. Black Water feels more to me like a Scottish or Orcadian version of American Country music. It’s modern and traditional at the same time, and very much routed in a sense of place.
And he is not only a truly stunning guitar player but has one of the best male voices in folk music.
Current Favourite Thing:
His reworking of Green Grows The Laurel, which is utterly different from the version that was well-known, but yet feels fresher and more focused. It sounds less like a Ye Olde Ballade and more like a person telling you about their life.