Scotland’s Roseanne Reid charmed and captivated her audience in the intimate setting of London’s St. Pancras Old Church. Born in Leith, Reid – daughter of Proclaimer Craig Reid– performed solo with her acoustic guitar, giving her the opportunity to showcase her songwriting talents. Her recent album release ‘Lawside’ was favourably reviewed on its release this summer on AUK, and her set featured songs from the album and its predecessor, ‘Trails’.
Opening her set with ‘All I Need’, also the opening track on her recent album release, Reid set the tone for the evening, with her gentle fingerpicking guitar style, and distinctive Scottish tones drawing in the listeners to her stories. ‘Daisy Chain’, from the same album, has a jaunty tone, belying its tale of moving on, Reid singing “Got my head above the water/ head above the sand/ head up in a daisy chain/ and I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing half the time/ but I know I ain’t coming back again.“ Vocal harmonies on the album track come from Bjorn Tomren, Reid told us, referring to him as “Norway’s champion yodeller.” ‘Call it Love’ features a full band arrangement on her album with brass and piano, here Reid introduced it as “How it first started out”, adding harmonica to her guitar and vocal. ‘Passing Through’, from her ‘Horticulture’ EP, with Reid’s lyric “I like to watch the sun come up when the city is feeling young” is an ode to the simple pleasures in life.
Reid’s passion for songwriting shines through her set, and she introduces ‘Levi’ from her ‘Trails’ album as “The first song she’s proud of lyrically” for its storytelling style, singing “Well Levi, pick yourself off the ceiling/ Don’t you think it’s time that you get to healing/Know that girl with the sunshine, she didn’t mean to make you cry/You just forgot to tell her how you’ve been feeling Levi.”
The audience was treated to a preview of a new song – Reid explained that she had been asked to write a song for a documentary to be released next year, featuring a couple from Fife, one of whom is an ex-serviceman, with PTSD. The song, called ‘A Different Kind of Brave‘, reminding us that the challenges of active service don’t end on returning home from conflict zones. Reid featured a couple of covers in her set, the first of these she introduced as by “one of her favourite vocalists, Miranda Lambert”, before singing ‘Bluebird’, a co-write with Luke Dick and Natalie Hemby.
Clearly enjoying the opportunity to chat informally to her audience Reid described the pleasure of touring with Steve Earle – a mentor and big supporter of her music – earlier this year, recalling her young son, with them for the tour, running across the stage with Steve Earle in pursuit. Earle featured with her on the recording of her next song, ‘Sweet Annie’.
Introduced as her “existential crisis song“, and the one she is most proud of, ‘What Constitutes a Sin’ is indeed a powerful song with Reid singing, “Well baby I’m just dying to know what constitutes a sin/ is it the killing in your smile or the red dress on your skin/ ‘cos’ I was happy in my life and then you walked on in/ so baby I’m just dying to know what constitutes a sin.” It’s a combination of the conversational with the confessional which can’t help but put one in mind of the songs of Mary Gauthier–a flattering comparison fully deserved. ‘Made Just For You’, Reid told us, is a song written when planning parenthood with her wife while ‘This Is You’, also featured on ‘Lawside’ and rather in the mould of Gillian Welch was Reid’s most strongly American roots influenced song of the performance.
Reid closed with the gentle lilt in 6:8 time of ‘I Love Her So’, from her ‘Trails’ album, returning to enthusiastic applause from the audience for her encore, playing Dougie MacLean’s ‘Caledonia’, which she recalled she hadn’t played since her high school days, before closing with ‘Mona Lisa’, which she dedicated to a venerable Dundee institution of that name, now closed and up for sale. She joked that if she made enough money from the song maybe she should buy it and keep it just the same that it is. A fitting conclusion to a very fine set from Reid.
Support came from Tom Webber, who played an excellent set of original songs on guitar, displaying his very fine fingerpicking skills, and considerable stage presence. Webber was joined on stage for a couple of songs on keys by Jonathan Quarmby and by Maya Lane on vocals on ‘Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime’, a collaboration with her on his recent EP ‘The RAK Tracks’.