The Foghorns - Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Wed 5 Aug 2009 (4 stars)

The Foghorns - Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Wed 5 Aug 2009

There’s something dark at the melancholy heart of lead Foghorn Bart Cameron’s country-tinged missives of loves past, present and possible. On a low-key two-date Scottish stopover in a stripped-back duo format, some-time Reykjavik resident Cameron’s downbeat demeanour is offset by the honeyed counterpoint of co-vocalist Katie Quigley in a short set of gentle heartbreak. Standing side by side, Cameron in vintage suit, Quigley swaying with hands in print frock pockets, and with only their voices and an acoustic guitar for company, a doleful harmonica sets the tone, with most songs drawn from this year’s Beefy Beefy Records release, ‘A Diamond As Big As The Motel Six.’

Cameron’s milieu is old-time booze-soaked laments deep-fried with dust-bowl languor. The delivery is as contrary to the band name as possible, with only the throwaway rites-of-passage boogie of ‘Brooklyn Bridge,’ when the're joined by Iceland's own Benni Hemm Hemm on drums, coming close to bottle-smashing clatter. Cynicism and idealism step out together on ‘Old Bachelors in Cleveland,’ a gentle sneer at aging singletons

once the narrator’s own true love has come calling. This was presumably written before the adulterous smooch of ‘Sleepy Waltz,’ which, like a Raymond Carver miniature set to a slowed-down n’ woozy melody from The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Sticking With You’, shuffles through its after-hours liaison with a set of conflicting emotions that are as bittersweet as they are unrepentant in a swoonalong song worth staying out late for.

The Foghorns and Benni Hemm Hemm play Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, Thu 6 Aug

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