Adam Holmes & the Embers - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 5 May 2014 (4 stars)

Gravel-voiced folk musician whose Scottish Album of the Year nomination is well-earned

Adam Holmes & the Embers - Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Mon 5 May 2014

Photo: Thomas Slack

Freshly longlisted for this year’s Scottish Album of the Year award for his measured and thoughtful debut album Heirs and Graces, Adam Holmes doesn’t seem like the sort of character who will do much shouting about his success. ‘D’youse feel like singing?’ he enquires gruffly at one point, in a gravelly speaking voice which belies the fact he’s only 23. ‘Well please don’t, because it’ll put me off.’ He’s joking, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to picture him holding court in an old-timers’ folk club where such statements are viewed as scintillating stagecraft.

Speaking of that voice, though, it really is the axis on which this gig turns, a distinctive and worldly instrument which gets under your skin (in a good way) the more you hear of it. Its tone has a kind of lullaby caress, but there’s also a world-weariness which adds character and weight as Holmes tells us ‘I will lay my aching body down’ on ‘Common Ground’ and guides us through the pastoral rootsiness of the guitar and keyboard duet ‘Where the River Meets the Hill’. Ending on a more rousing, shanty-like drinking song which demands ‘won’t you come out drinking with me?’, we’re left with the echo of an artist whose work endures in the mind. That nomination’s well-deserved.

Adam Holmes - I Can't Be Right

Adam Holmes & The Embers

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominee Adam Holmes.


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