LAU - Lightweights And Gentlemen

Louise Evans 29/04/2007

Rating: 4/5

For a long time seen as a somewhat dying genre of music, folk has undergone a resurgence in the past few years with artists such as Seth Lakeman entering into the public awareness. Having become established on their native Scottish folk scene, LAU are now seeking to make the most of this popularity boost. Individually the three band members have already achieved acclaim including Kris Drever winning an award at the 2007 BBC2 Folk Awards and Aidan O'Rourke being voted Instrumentalist Of The Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2006; and they have now combined their talents to produce debut album Lightweights and Gentlemen.

The trio demonstrate these talents from the very start of the album; opener 'Hinba' is a good example. The fast paced instrumental allows O'Rourke's fiddle and Martin Green's accordion to take the foreground individually. The two main instrumentals are ably assisted by Drever's guitar work which provides a solid grounding for the others to soar from. Of the eleven album tracks (including bonus track 'Twa Stewarts'), eight are instrumentals and are in the main lively and joyful. 'The Jigs' continues this trend and 'Results' adds a slightly Spanish feel to the mix; both highlighting the complexity and speed at which these musicians can play. A couple of the instrumental tracks have a more gentle, sorrowful feel; 'Gallowhill' and 'Twa Stewarts' bring the album to a close with a sweet yet sad descent showing the trio capable of the subtle as well as the frantic. Three tracks on Lightweights and Gentlemen feature Drever's vocals; his broad Scottish accent stands out in an industry where many seem content to sound just like everyone else. The vocals lend an extra element of authenticity and soul to tracks such as the melancholic 'Unquiet Grave' and Ewan MacColl's 'Freeborn Man'.

What stands out throughout the whole album is the level of conviction with which it has been produced. The musicianship is outstanding which each band member given ample opportunity to showcase their individual talents to the full and each do so with undeniable passion. Lightweights and Gentlemen should definitely be checked out by any fans of folk music out there, yet even those who wouldn't normally be interested are likely to appreciate the skills on show here.