A review of The David Latto Band, The Greenhouse,Dingwall on Saturday 4th May, 2013.
If it’s between two and four o’clock on a Saturday then it must be The Greenhouse in Dingwall. I spend my first ten minutes or so trying to figure out what’s changed since my last visit because there is always something (and usually with a humorous twist) being added to the Tea Posy environment. And that’s a fine way to spend the time – well that and picking a cake – while I’m waiting for the David Latto Band to take to the stage. In keeping with the quirky side of the venue the band turns out to be one Gavin Jeebo Brady and, well that’s all, there is no more. So, two guys with guitars it is then.
David and Gavin hail from Fife and have a predominantly alternative country set with some folk influences never very far away. Two guys with guitars and very fine voices, David Latto takes the lead while Gavin Brady provides harmonies that really compliment David’s vocals and inevitably it seems we have two voices that are more than the sum of their parts. I don’t know if it is ever truly helpful to offer a comparison with other singers: for starters you have to trust my ear and then of course, David might disagree. But if he were, for example, to cover Teddy Thompson’s ‘Missing Children’, then I’d happily pay to hear it.
Today David and Gavin gave us a set that included most everything from their first album, the eponymous The David Latto Band, of which ‘Wait a Minute’ and ‘God I’m Drinking Tonight’ are enough to force a purchase. David Latto admits to being heavily influenced by blue grass music but alas his song ‘Byway Man’ was rejected by a major bluegrass festival for not being ‘blue grass enough’. Harsh – I’m pretty sure if you tried to sneak this past the Soggy Bottom Boys they’d grab it.
Elsewhere, his homage to the Shetland yodeler Thomas Fraser ‘3000 Miles from Nashville’ shines like a lone star. Taken from the EP ‘Live at the Glad Café’ I’m guessing this will be in the set for some time to come. Thereafter the set consists of songs that are competing for inclusion on the next album and some covers. The Waterboys make an appearance although if I am to be honest playing the mandolin parts for ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ on the guitar didn’t work for me. However the second half opens with a tribute to George Jones and a fine rendition of ‘If Drinking Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will)’.
The set is typical alternative country in terms of the subject matter, for example, road trips, love and belonging, place and placeless-ness, redemption, regret, lost youth, the demon drink and . . . death and dying. But they are finely crafted lyrically, indeed they are songs with a touch of class and David Latto’s voice, warm and intimate without ever being too sentimental, is damn near perfect for them. Especially when accompanied by Gavin Brady. My one confession is that I wanted to hear more; more on stage in the shape of mandolin, fiddle, drums maybe even banjo. I was pleasantly surprised that the first album heard my confession and delivered, it is well worth a listen.
I suspect that these guys will be back pretty soon; in fact if a variety of social media outlets are correct then they are to be heard at Belladrum this August. Good news indeed.
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Read our other Greenhouse articles.