The Musician Magazine
Exquisite country folk from Edinburgh
Exquisitely melodious country/folk from the Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter and her top drawer supporting cast. A delightful and tender mix of north of the border reflections and Stateside prairie echoes, this is a set of rare depth and humour. The Road to Siam reflects her lyrical strength – ‘I was a maverick fire horse queen, I lived as I died for love’ – with its acoustic delicacy and perfect arrangement adding up to a charmingly bewitching, timeless approach.
Folk n Roots
Sharon King & The Nevernever Cowboys – RECKLESS ANGELS (NCR)
Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Sharon has been off the scene for a few years following her two rather essential previous albums 24 Hours and Quiddity (the latter came out back in 2004, since when she has been “getting tangled up in English literature”!), but she now makes up for that long absence with a really powerful return to music, bringing with her a very fine new batch of confessional songs which while retaining her sharp-edged perceptiveness and dry, nay wry sense of humour, also convey a new-found lyricism and even keener sense of wordplay that most likely stems from a wider appreciation of literary creativity. Musically, Sharon still operates unequivocally in that ever-intriguing spaciously expressive territory which we invariably find nestling just the right side of acoustic country-indie. Sharon ’s proven ability to strip bare the essence of experience in her songwriting is undiminished, with her subtle and intimate observations on life’s hopes and dreams supremely telling in their simplicity. To realise these vital thoughts, Sharon’s trademark moody, alluring voice is well in evidence; if anything it nowadays arguably evokes Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins even more strongly (especially on songs like Under The Sun and Wide Open, Part Two) and sometimes also Kirsty McGee in its intrinsic understatement, whereas Twinkle (whose lyric gives the disc its title) demonstrates that there’s no shortage of tumbling passion in Sharon’s expressive armoury either. The regretful High Times is a standout, with its sultry, almost chamber-tango setting employing what amounts to a piano-trio in support of Sharon’s keening tones, as is the delicately poised Fair Sailing, while the enchantingly doleful Cairn O Mohr (neat play on words there!) uses a Cajun-country waltz mode to explore the bottom of a wine-glass. The album’s production is brilliantly clear-textured too; great use is made of sparing and beautifully sensitive instrumental accompaniments, invariably built upon the solid foundation of Sharon’s own acoustic guitar picking, with individual timbres (eg slide guitar on Wide Open and kalimba on Twinkle) skilfully integrated. That’s not, of course, to underestimate the exemplary contributions of NRSB’s Vera Van Heeringen on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and backing vocals throughout, while other musicians enhancing the palette at various points – I’d hesitate to formally identify them as Nevernever Cowboys, for this “umbrella sobriquet” seems to be a fluid pool from which any number can be drawn to suit the occasion! – include Al James, Inge Thomson and Donald Hay (all of whom appeared on Quiddity), with among others James Mackintosh, Nicola McAteer, Shelly Coyne, Kaela Rowan and Tim Mathew). This is a lovingly sequenced disc too... Reckless Angels is a tremendous album, and one which, importantly, also forms a convincing artistic statement – we really should be hearing more of Sharon .
Whilst constantly exploring that shifting border where acoustic singer-songwriter becomes country, Sharon King’s third album nonetheless remains firmly in the territory of the best contemporary Scottish music that has given us Karine Polwart, Emily Smith, et al. With finely wrought ‘confessional’ lyrics delivered in an intimate vocal style, these are songs to get to know over time. Likewise, the subtle arrangements of the Nevernever Cowboys – a dozen or more contributors, many with impressive pedigrees of their own – reveal new textures with each play. To choose a couple of instances at more-or-less random, Nicola McAteer's cello really picks out the depths beneath ‘High Times’. Donald MacDougall’s atmospheric slide beautifully expands the horizons on ‘Wide Open’ (part two), and let’s hear it for Jasper King: triangle on ‘Cairn O Mohr’. The more rhythmically upbeat ‘Lady Tuesday’ doesn’t quite sit comfortably in the mix, but by the time the magnificent loping closer of ‘Your Kitchen Table’ comes around, any slight misgivings are long forgotten…
Edinburgh based singer songwriter with a talent for spinning yarns in her country tinged acoustic songs;
The third album from King – whose intimate, affecting songs are set somewhere between the mountains of the highlands and the plains of the American mid-west – charges various members of the Scottish folk scene to provide instrumental augmentation for her beautiful melodies.
AFTER a seven year hiatus, Scottish troubadour Sharon King has resurfaced. With the Nevernever Cowboys. which includes a liberal sprinkling of eminent Scottish talent, Reckless Angels is her third album of self-penned outpourings, presented in a Texan blues style, somewhat countryesque with an occasional flavour of the Highlands. From the almost reckless sing-along Cairn O Mhor to the more delicate Twinkle, there's an easy-going, toasting marshmallows around the campfire kind of atmosphere, bringing the cowboy spirit back to the glens. Yee-Haw! Andy Piper
Roots n Shoots
‘A very fresh sound…delightful…rich…appealing…perceptive’