Poets and Ligthhouses fRoots review.
ALBERT KUVEZIN & YAT-KHA Poets And Lighthouses
The idea of Tuvan folk-rocker Albert Kuvezin and his band Yat-Kha has sometimes appealed more than the reality. Not always (they can put on a darkly blistering live show), but I haven’t found myself taking to the growly voiced Mr K and co. as much as I think I ought to. The omens for this new album weren’t looking too promising either: recorded on a remote Scottish island and including some musical settings of obscure Japanese poetry… doesn’t exactly sound like the soundtrack to a fun Saturday night does it? And yet Poets & Lighthouses turns out to be a winner. Stark, shamanistic but strangely beautiful, it features a whole new Yat-Kha line-up, including ‘Hardest Working Man in Roots-biz’ Lu Edmonds, Billy Bragg’s bassist Simon Edwards, clarinettist Sarah Homer and multi-instrumentalist Giles Perring (who also produced the recording at his studio on the Isle of Jura).
The sound is acoustic and varied, peaking with The Way My Poetry Should Go, where the rumbling lead vocals, ghostly chorus and unusual instrumentation bring to mind a kind of Tuvan/Celtic Tom Waits. There are interludes that feature just Kuvezin growling, whispering and intoning, a duet with Scottish smallpiper Neil Cameron and a lovely closing track that offsets Kuvezin’s ravaged voice with the sweet tones of Melanie Pappenheim. But it’s the instrumental backing, sometimes soaring, sometimes muted, always imaginative, that really makes the album such an unexpected joy.