Amythyst Kiah, at Eden Court, Inverness.
Appearing solo this evening what is clear from the off is that Amythyst Kiah is a really accomplished guitarist, she picks her way effortlessly across various styles featuring jazz, blues and country. The fabulous thing is that none of this eclectic mix is at all jarring, the set feels well paced and cohesive and it’s all held together wonderfully well by her sensational voice. I always feel I have to apologise when I do this, it seems a wee bit lazy, but: if you are in the least bit fond of Nina Simone, Joan Armatrading or Tracy Chapman – then you missed someone who would sit very comfortably in your music collection.
Amythyst Kiah has an instantly engaging husky and expressive voice: it’s a voice that can carry edge, warmth, love, humour and heartbreak. All that aside, I really liked her stage presence – she is relaxed, talkative and witty and I have always been particularly fond of artists who give us the stories behind the songs. Tonight’s set is fairly typical of previous shows, a well-considered mix of styles featuring original material and covers in equal measure.
From the opener, Vera Hall’s ‘Trouble So Hard’ I’m pretty well hooked. She follows this up with her own response to trying alcohol for the first time as a twenty-something in Hangover Blues. There is an inevitable political reference with her own song ‘Myth’: written in anticipation of a natural apocalypse a few million years hence when that big old sun stops shining, she worries that given the current geopolitics it might occur somewhat sooner, and less naturally. Given her influences then The Carter Family just had to feature and we were duly treated to ‘Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow’ while a marvellous working of ‘Jolene’ (from fellow Tennessean Dolly Parton) saw an outburst of chair dancing in The One Touch Theatre.
Many of the folk I had chatted to as they made their way in to the theatre were there because they had either caught Amythyst at the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival last summer, or, someone who had been there had told them all about her. This was her first solo performance in Inverness, suffice it to say, I hope it won’t be her last. Meanwhile, why not check out her albums, her solo album goes by the name of ‘Dig’ or there is Amythyst with full band and the album ‘Genre’.