“I only seem to write songs about boys and the weather”
Kat Healy is an Edinburgh singer-songwriter, based in Leith, with an acoustic, folk-influenced style. She kicked off her set with Weatherman (“I only seem to write songs about boys and the weather”), accompanying herself on guitar in a fingerpicking style. There are quotations on Kat’s website comparing her to Joni Mitchell… yes… well… maybe. Certainly Kat’s voice is beautiful, expressive with a huge amount of control, able to sustain the final note in each phrase with excellent tone and apparent ease – all the more remarkable given that she is currently suffering with a heavy cold.
The patter between numbers is entertaining, chatty. Graham joins the stage on guitar for Frozen Smile, his playing style is understated, staccato notes with lots of muting, an excellent accompanist. The keys emphasise the scrunchy dissonance of the 9th and 11th chords. Kat did not play guitar for this and that allowed for fuller vocals and expression. Unfortunately the next song was spoiled by an annoying PA hum from the electric guitar that Graham had swapped to. Paul Gilbody, who had done his own very entertaining guitar and vocal slot in support earlier, joined on double bass and, for me, this didn’t add too much to the performance; mainly pizzicato root notes with octave leaps, notes that were already being played on keys.
Paul’s bass part for the next song, No Heros, did add a lot to the music, with a well crafted line with a nice hook which leaped effectively to a high register, overlapping with the guitar part. This was a great song, where Kat performed with a real emotional depth – though the bass notes on the keys in the chorus were a little hamfisted.
Heart strings were tugged with a song about Kat’s late mother. However, this beautiful song was marred as the buzzing electric guitar returned and, with no other instruments playing to mask it, the fault was quite stark. Kim Edgar and Emily Kelly, who had both done support earlier, joined in for the final piece, I’ll Fly Away, from the American songbook. This was a fun, upbeat, three part closeharmony version. There were a few balance issues with Kim being quite a bit quieter than the other two, but they clearly enjoyed singing this song. And that, along with a great little guitar solo from Graham, was a fitting end to the night.
As a gig it was good value at £9, especially with the three support acts. I found Kat’s professionalism of performing whilst feeling under the weather to be great, BUT starting the gig over half an hour late was not! I came to hear Kat’s amazing voice and I got that, but I do feel that she is at her best when she is not playing guitar herself. As a set then one or two more upbeat numbers would not have gone amiss, but that emotion, always on the edge of melancholy does have its place and maybe, quite possibly, the world needs a female equivalent of Ben Howard or Benjamin Francis Leftwich.
Reviewer: David Jones (Seen 17 December)
Visit Kat Healy here