Album Review: Lau – Arc Light

There must be a huge amount of pressure that comes with being the Radio 2 Folk Awards ‘Best Group’ of the year for two years running, especially when the latest award comes months before the release of your second album of original material.

Kris Drever (guitar and vocal), Martin Green (piano accordion) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle), have been performing as a group for nearly three years now and in that time have become the band that is setting the standards for modern traditional music in Scotland.

As opening track ‘The Burrian’ creaks into life you are instantly taken to another, more romantic, land of mystery and discovery. As with a majority of the tracks on the album, ‘The Burrian’ is an instrumental number, but it’s almost hard to believe this is true. The music is so textured and emotional the listener feels like a tale is being told to them, be it through melancholy of the piano accordion or the hyper-activity of the fiddle, each instrument delivers such a strong personality it’s hard not to get carried away into the Highlands with each listen.

This should take nothing away from Drever’s vocals, which are heavy and powerful yet  understated and complement the music perfectly.

The one failing of Arc Light, for this reviewer, is the levels. Each member of Lau is a  hugely accomplished musician and each of them take it in turns to shine on different tracks, but far too often the guitar is lost beneath the shrillness of the fiddle.

Despite this Arc Light is a thing of real beauty to behold and proof enough that Lau are deserving of all the plaudits showered down on them.

Words: Adam Wilkinson