By Colleen Taylor
SOAK is coming to town. And this time, she’s not doing it alone. The Irish singer-songwriter from Derry will tour the States for the first time with a full band. She will perform on June 23 at Rough Trade in Brooklyn. SOAK’s debut solo album, “Before We Forgot How to Dream” (2015), which she released with Rough Trade, was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, making Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, the youngest female nominee in seven years.
To this amazing accomplishment, SOAK also adds the Northern Irish Music Prize and European Border Breaker Award, as well as the praise of nearly ever music critic in Ireland and the UK. SOAK has taken the music scene by storm, and now she takes her sounds up a notch by putting her voice to the backing of a full live band. SOAK comes to the States this time as the opening act for the contemporary American folk band the Lumineers, from Colorado. As part of the tour, she will perform several headlining shows, including the Brooklyn gig and a show in Philadelphia and D.C. to follow.
Don’t miss the chance to see this burgeoning Irish superstar. Get your tickets at soakmusic.co.uk.
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Scottish singer Kris Drever has been a great friend to Irish music. He has worked with a number of Irish singers, like Heidi Talbot, on her solo albums, and his songwriting has been praised by Irish music’s best artists and critics. Not to mention, he has been the lead singer for one of traditional music’s best acts, Lau. The Irish music scene has a lot to look forward to, therefore, with the recent release of Drever’s third solo album, “If Wishes Were Horses.” The album is a fresh folk revival—quiet, romantic, and true to its roots.
Kris Drever. PHOTO: CHLOE GARRICK
Drever is the next generation Dougie MacLean, celebrating the ancient Scottish tenors of his voice through contemporary folk songwriting. The songs on “If Wishes Were Horses” are semi-autobiographical and explore, circuitously through metaphor, topics like education, love, employment, and migration. His lyrics are written in such a way that invites inquisitive, literary scrutiny. One of my particular favorite examples of this is “Shipwrecked.” The line in the chorus, “no one gets shipwrecked anymore,” abounds with truth and irony—it implies that in the lack of literal shipwrecks in our modern day, we frequently experience metaphorical shipwrecks. The title track plays on an old folk saying, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.” The album, as a whole, explores the folk tradition, through a modern-day consciousness. Most of all, however, it’s a great new take on traditional Celtic folk music, which—I have no doubt—will expand to invigorate many artists in this field.
Drever isn’t the only Scottish artist releasing new music this month. Scottish singer Eddi Reader has also produced a new album, a thirty-track dual record, her “Best of” release. The album contains a new rendition of one of her top hits, “Moon River.” Reader embarks on a tour to accompany the release of her “Best of” album, which will take her from the UK to Japan, and back to Scotland. Her beautiful singing voice still has many fans, in Scotland and abroad, which is no surprise. As her “Best of” album demonstrates, she can move from traditional genres to balladeering and Broadway tunes in the quick switch of a track.