Established as recently as February of this year, the weekly RootsBase series of gigs, held in the Rose Theatre’s Gilded Balloon Basement, is already proving to be a very welcome addition to Edinburgh’s music scene. On 26th March, it was the turn of Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter and pianist, Kim Edgar, to grace this intimate space and she was given a suitably warm and rousing welcome to the stage. The opening song, the gracefully lilting Leaf For A Sail, was inspired by a line from a John Glenday poem and served early notice of Kim Edgar’s gifts as a storyteller in song. Edgar informed us that she had delivered on her promise to write three new songs in time for this gig and the first of these was You Are Loved, a heartfelt and heart-warming message to mark her niece’s 18th birthday. Anchor In The Sky used the North Star as a motif in a moving tribute to the Good Samaritans of this world. Having once been dubbed “Edinburgh’s very own Tori Amos”, Kim Edgar is equally adept at crafting songs which are deliciously dark and edgy and this was exemplified by the heady swirl and underlying menace of Scissors, Paper, Stone. Edgar’s graceful vocals positively soared on the sweeping and majestic Red, an affectionate reflection on her mum’s early life growing up in Bathgate.
Switching from piano to guitar, Kim Edgar road-tested the second of her new songs, the tender and affecting Waiting For A Sign. Conveying great warmth and intimacy, Well Worn likened loving and enduring relationships to the ‘comfy fit’ of a favourite pair of shoes. The Whole Rainbow was Edgar’s quietly eloquent argument against gender stereotyping. To bring a sparkling first set to a close, Kim Edgar enlisted the services of the audience to sing along on the choruses, as she swept into the gloriously uplifting Moran Taing (“Thank You” in English), a celebration of her dad’s life, which was released as a charity single on 28th March by pan-European folk band Cara (of which Kim is a member) to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
The second set opened with the third new offering, Witness, which Kim Edgar described as ‘a cuddle in the form of a song’. Edgar’s ability to write convincingly in the Scots language was evident in Twa Magicians, a stirring, supernatural tale involving two shape-shifting protagonists. Two striking songs, Tightrope and Withheld, explored the conflicting emotions surrounding physical attraction, while the elegant The Ornate Lie delivered a stinging rebuke to the objectification of women. The wistful Heavy Skies was a suitably poignant tribute to Kim’s Granny Edgar. Having trailed it repeatedly earlier in the gig, Kim Edgar’s delivery of her fabled ‘balloon joke’ proved worth the wait (no spoilers here…you have to hear it for yourself).
Further edginess came in the form of two collaboratively-written songs from Kim Edgar’s time as a member of The Burns Unit: House On The Hill (co-written with Emma Pollock), with its slightly unsettling story-line and clever changes of pace; and the vivid imagery throughout the brooding and revengeful murder ballad Blood, Ice And Ashes (co-written with Karine Polwart). Lighter relief (and more audience participation) was offered by the deceptively simple but uplifting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and, for the encore, the delightful 8, 9, 10, a song written to celebrate the birth of Edgar’s nephew.
This gig typified the directness, warmth and humour of Kim Edgar’s live performances. With her bold, imaginative and thought-provoking songs, graceful vocals and elegant piano, she continues to enhance her reputation as one of Scotland’s most engaging and original singer-songwriters.