Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eilidh McKellar - Electric Circus, Edinburgh, 25 April 2015

I continue to be a bit bemused by Eilidh McKellar being tagged as a blues artist.  To be clear, I ain’t the blues police, and this isn’t intended as a criticism.  She certainly has bluesy influences, but to my mind she melds them with other ingredients to head into rather more expansive territory – rather as Dave Gilmour, say, draws on the blues scale as fuel for something decidedly different.
Eilidh McKellar - have guitar, will explore
That notion is reinforced by ‘Remedy’, the second song in this hour long set, which features nifty guitar harmonies and interplay over funky rhythms, ahead of an excellent solo which typifies McKellar’s ability to develop original guitar tones and textures.  Her voice is distinctive too, but there’s a still a need for her to project more vocally.
After ‘Dead Man Walking’ and ‘Avenue E’, from her album Delta Devil Dreams, the set takes a detour with a cover version of a Kanye West song – not my usual territory, but research suggests it was ‘No Church In The Wild’, though I stand ready to be corrected. Again, it’s an adventurous excursion, delivered playfully but also with conviction.  Eilidh makes a passing reference to the track having blues roots – a James Brown sample perhaps? – but the more significant point is her ability to synthesize different styles into her sound.
‘Cruel’ is a high point, its rippling guitar lines vaguely suggesting some post-blues Tullish textures, hung around a big Zeppy riff in the middle, and resonant enough to be spinning around my head into the next day. Set closer ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’ features more assertive vocals from her on a revved up chorus, announced by a Hendrixy opening and pursued by a riff that echoes her champion Joe Bonamassa.
I often find myself doubtfully comparing Eilidh McKellar with a host of other artists.  It's indicative of the need to find points of reference for someone who is exploring all sorts of possibilities.  I dare say there are more relevant influences that I’m missing, so comments welcome.  Meantime, which musical highways and byways will Eilidh take us down next?
Coming soon - reviews of King King's new album Reaching For The Light, and Kara Grainger live.  Watch this space!

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