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Twice winners of Best Group at the Radio 2 Folk Awards (2008/2009), Lau are back with their highly anticipated second album, Arc Light. The follow up to their hit debut--Lightweights and Gentlemen, Arc Light is Lau at their very best. A collection of self-penned tunes and songs which highlights their unique take on folk music.
Highly regarded musicians in their own right, the combined talents of Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke make for a formidable and all-conquering trio. It is no surprise they were once again triumphant at this years BBC Folk Awards. Some songs from the new album have been showcased live at recent sell out shows in Tokyo and Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. Never off the road for long, Lau begin the Arc Light tour of the UK in early 2009.
Lau employ rising, epic song structures not usually associated with folk music and more akin to those on the leftfield of rock and jazz. The new album sees Kris Drever debut some of his own songs for the first time including the new radio single "Wintermoon", and there is a special Mojo commissioned Beatles cover as a bonus track on the first pressing of Arc Light.
Newly anointed Best Group in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for a second year in succession, Scottish three-piece Lau has injected a freshness, vitality, vigour and excitement into the UK folk scene that made this second studio album from the trio a much anticipated proposition.
Arc of Light follows 2007's critically acclaimed debut, Lightweights & Gentlemen, and last year's Live set, owners of which will already have enjoyed a preview of two new tracks featured here. First recorded by The Weavers in 1949, a cover of Les Rice's caustically punning Banks of Marble finds vocalist and guitarist Kris Drever in unforgiving mood, Aidan O'Rourke's fiddle offering its own agitated commentary. O'Rourke is just as feisty in Frank & Flo's, accompanying Martin Green's virtuosic accordion with a fevered, colour-saturated intensity, before flowing into his own pacy, questing, obviously Scottish An Tobar.
Winter Moon sleeves Drever's nasally-pinched voice in a faux, fey world-weariness that calls Rufus Wainwright to mind, while The Master is a more sprightly, lighter-textured affair, O'Rourke's staccato underpinning a remarkably effective rhythmic device.
What astonishes most about Lau is the orchestral quality of the sound. Augmented with pedal guitar, Horizontigo, epic in conception and execution though it is, makes considerably more of guitar, fiddle and accordion than ought to be possible. The wonderful Salty Boys, mesmeric Temple of Fiddles and playful, psychedelically-tinged Stephen's all point to Lau being musicians with something of point and purpose to say and the more than eloquent means to say it.
Calum Malcolm's production is beautifully framed with a deftly despatched bonus cover of Dear Prudence an engaging encore. --Michael Quinn
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Top Customer Reviews
Folk purists need not panic, there is plenty here for you to love and cherish as well. Arc Light is packed with innovation from the introduction of pedal steel guitar for the first time to the live qualities of production.
Kris Drever's vocals have moved on again from the first two records and seem to indicate a greater confidence in his own ability and rightly so. Winter Moon and Banks of Marble are both very worthy singles and full of hooks, I have played them over and over since getting the album. Horizontigo is a magical instrumental that reminds me of the glorious John Martyn track, Small Hours played at 45rpm as opposed to 33rpm.
Buy this record regardless of your musical tastes, you will not be disappointed.
Pushing the boundaries on from their wonderful
2007 debut 'Lightweights & Gentlemen' this
fiercely talented Scottish trio return with
an inspiring second showing : 'Arc Light'.
Messrs Deever (guitar/vocals); O'Rourke (fiddle)
and Green (accordion) stamp their idiosyncratic
mark on the hide of an ancient musical tradition.
They make a beautiful noise.
That such a small ensemble (with the occasional help
of Mr Nisbet's pedal steel guitar and a smattering of
additional backing vocals) are able to create such a
wide range of moods and soundscapes is breathtaking.
All three performers' technical skills are prodigious.
The melodic and rhythmic structure of the ten compositions
is slippery, elusive and inspirationally driven.
Whether in the mind-bending complexities of instrumentals
such as 'Horizontigo - a. Horizontigo. b. Alright In The Held';
or a gently lilting and heart-melting vocal ballad like
'Winter Moon', (Mr Drever hs a cracking voice!) the band
consistently deliver a truly thrilling and uplifting anthology
of imaginative sonic adventures.
Other highlights include the incandescent 'Banks Of Marble',
where all three primary instuments spit out shards of silver
behind another strong vocal outing from Mr Drever and the
perfectly lovely closing track 'Dear Prudence', a curiously
affecting (and strangely different) little slice of hippie heaven.
It's all good! No waste at all. A stunning achievement in fact.
So this is the third album from Lau although only the second studio recording. A couple of the tracks first appeared on the Live album - Banks of Marble and Frank and Flo's and the bonus track (Dear Prudence) was on a Mojo cover-mounted CD of the White Album (well it was a two parter obviously).
I'm always reluctant to do reviews very early on (if you look most of my reviews are of things released years ago). I decided to make an exception here as there really is something special going on. I had heard a couple of the tracks when the band played Celtic Connections in January and there is definitely an increased confidence in what they are doing. This shows up well in the writing, with Winter Moon the first evidence of Kris Drever starting to come up with new songs. There are also some cracking new tunes - The Burrian, Horizontigo and The Salty Boys all favourites at this early stage.
There is some steel guitar on a few tracks and backing vocals from Karine Polwart, Inge Thompson (now married to Martin Green) and Corrina Hewitt.
If anyone had told me 10 years ago that my favourite band would consist of a fiddler an accordionist and an acoustic guitarist I would have laughed them out of the room!
Go and see them live, you won't regret it.
Attracted to the album by the presence of Drever, who's solo work and collaboration with Roddy Woomble and John McCusker are a permanent presence in my CD player due to his beautiful voice, I am pleased to report that this album offers all that I admire Drever for, but successfully blends in the influences of Green and O'Rourke to produce something different and fresh.
The heart of the album is a love and passion for folk music, tempered with a modern sensibility. Mixing Green's iridescent fiddle work with O'Rourke's delightful accordion and the beautiful voice of Drever we are presented wioth a set of tunes that seem designed to get you up and dancing, but tell tales of the trials and tribulations of people in a long gone age, but still manage somehow to pass comment on society today. Especially the righteously indignant Banks Of Marble, my favourite track, that appears to really lay into the rich overclass.
It's a quite stunning album. 5 stars easily.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed Lightweights and Gentlemen and have played it over and over, so bought this one on the strength of it. Mistake! Too much, too much, too much. Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2014 by R. A. Bentley
Excellent music, good band, modern with traditional roots, great CD. Would recommend to friends + family for presents + themselvesPublished on 4 Dec. 2013 by Christine Anne Jones
I first saw LAU on SKY ARTS via the annual Cropredy festival. An amazing band. I had never heard of them before that. Read morePublished on 20 Nov. 2011 by Moriah Hill
Lau's latest album has been labelled "progressive folk" - and not, I suspect, from a complimentary viewpoint either! Read morePublished on 17 Jun. 2010 by El Shippo
Loved the first Lau CD and have loads of the lads individual material. It is therefore disappointing to have to rate this CD as average. Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2009 by G. G. Allan
I have seen them live and I already knew some of the songs but my God they are good. If you like traditional music done in a modern way (without ruining the traditional) this is... Read morePublished on 7 Aug. 2009 by Electra
...is exactly what I do to Lau (with perhaps a little mental jig). Just magic.Published on 10 May 2009 by C. J. Barker