Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Singer/songwriter Kim Edgar provides a performance to remember with two sets of songs from her burgeoning repertoire – a voice mellifluous enough to melt the stoniest of hearts.
Kim Edgar is a fast rising star on the Scottish music scene and is currently in the process of completing a follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut album “Butterflies and Broken Glass”. The title gives you a strong hint as to her style – a reflective, contemplative, almost soulful voice that brings to life her thought-provoking and well-constructed lyrics.
Most of her first set at St Mark’s artSpace featured music from her upcoming CD but she also used the opportunity to debut a few pieces which, although she claimed were merely “work-in-progress” sounded pretty much like the finished article to me. For example, “House on the Hill” was a beautiful, emotionally tugging number, looking back, as much of her work does, on times fondly remembered. “Ready” was similarly reflective and “Not for Sharing” was an interesting way of showing that none of us are anything like perfect.
I often wonder what gives singer/songwriters like Kim Edgar inspiration. She has clearly drawn from the memory bank of the older members of her most immediate family as well as from her own experiences but quite how she found the insight to compose “Red”, a ballad about Bathgate, will remain a mystery. “Red” had a delicacy of tone, colour and emotion that most people would not normally associate with somewhere like Bathgate – so all credit to Edgar for encouraging us to look on this architectural junkyard with a new found softness.
And how long does it take to create a piece – the music, the lyrics – and fit it all together? About thirty minutes if the mood is right apparently. Participating in a songwriting retreat a few years ago resulted in her coming up with the delightfully simple “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” in just such a timeframe. So simple is it that she was able to get her audience (granted, we were a reasonably musical bunch) to learn a chorus and a counter melody in a matter of minutes.
Edgar is also clearly an accomplished pianist, playing with expression and in a manner that complements her excellent voice – tone and range are both out of the top drawer and she has an inspired empathy for the music she is playing and singing.
She knows her strengths, so the second set had a similar feel to the first – plenty more reflection and contemplation coming through but also a hint of vulnerability. She’s a performer that slowly drags you into her world, wrapping you up in her music in a way that provides comfort as well as enjoyment. The audience appeared predisposed towards empathising with her but her gentle personality and relaxed interaction with everyone would melt the stoniest of hearts.
With stock markets crashing all around last Friday and the great and the good filling the airwaves with portents of further doom and gloom, St Mark’s represented a haven of tranquility in which you could lose yourself in some top quality music performed by an artist clearly at the top of her game. Hard to beat.