Kim Edgar

Venue: Stockbridge Parish Church
Town: Edinburgh
Dates: 18/8/15

Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter, Kim Edgar, returned to Stockbridge Parish Church on 15th August to play a solo gig during the Edinburgh Fringe. Since she last played at this venue two years ago, Kim has become a well-established member of the German-based folk band, Cara, touring extensively with them throughout Europe and contributing her vocal, piano and songwriting talents to two of their albums (one yet to be released). This successful stint with Cara has meant fewer opportunities for Kim to play solo gigs over the last couple of years, but she has been continuing to write new songs and this Fringe gig provided the opportunity to showcase them, alongside some tried and tested favourites.

This same opportunity had obviously been eagerly-anticipated by the capacity audience, which cheered loudly as Kim Edgar took her place at the Steinway grand piano on the stage. She opened with two songs from her critically-acclaimed second album, "The Ornate Lie" (2012): "The Steamy Note", a beautifully elegant song about the enduring nature of love, was followed by the breezy "All The Little Sunbursts", which celebrates the special qualities found in everyday things. It was immediately clear that Kim Edgar was on top form, engaging the audience confidently and directly with the quietly captivating vocals and bold piano playing which have prompted comparisons with Tori Amos.

"The Ornate Lie" was also represented by "Blood, Ice And Ashes", a powerful, brooding and cathartic story of revenge, presented in terms of a nightmarish fairy tale; the graceful title track, with its gloriously soaring chorus; and the heartwarming "8, 9, 10", a celebration of the miracle of birth and new life, which featured enthusiastic audience participation. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" (a life-affirming song co-written with her inspiration and friend, Karine Polwart) provided another opportunity for audience sing-along.

There were also three songs from Kim Edgar's debut album, 2008's "Butterflies And Broken Glass", in the form of the heady swirl of "Scissors, Paper, Stone" (a menacing tale of domestic violence); the gentle lilt of "Climber"; and the wistful yet uplifting refrain of "Heavy Skies", a heartfelt tribute to Kim's Granny Edgar.

The new songs were sprinkled liberally among the old favourites. Two charming songs, "Old Hotels" and "Well Worn", provided solid reassurance about the 'comfy fit' of long-standing relationships. Particularly impressive were a trio of songs inspired by Kim's valuable and fulfilling work with the Vox Liminis project, which has involved visiting various Scottish prisons to support and encourage the inmates through facilitating singing and songwriting workshops. These striking songs ("A Woman Like Me"; "Crack And Then Shatter"; and "The Seamstress") described, with poetic imagery, the impact of crime from the perspectives of perpetrators (in one case, a female inmate separated from her children) and their family members.

The majestic "Leaf For A Sail" was inspired by a line from a John Glenday poem and the delicate grace of "Truce" recalled the famous incident during the First World War when British and German troops laid down their arms at Christmas-time to join each other in a friendly game of football in the 'no man's land' between the trenches. Another new song was a moving tribute to everyone who had offered support and affection to Kim when she had a health scare a couple of years ago.

The quality of these new songs, and the audience's extremely positive reaction, suggest that Kim Edgar's eagerly-awaited third solo album will be another one to savour.

In addition to enthralling the audience with her beautiful songs, Kim Edgar charmed us with her warmth, humour and story-telling. As if this wasn't enough, there were complimentary drinks at the interval, prizes to be won in a raffle (including the star prize of a selection of quality veg grown in Kim's allotment….) and, inevitably, the fabled balloon joke (which becomes a bit 'lost in translation' in Germany, apparently!).

This gig was a delight from start to finish and underlined Kim Edgar's reputation as one of Scotland's finest singer-songwriters. I hope that her Cara commitments allow time for her to start work on the recording of her third solo album before too long. On the evidence provided here, this next album promises to be a bit special and is likely to earn her the wider recognition which her talents deserve.

David Ferguson

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