This combination of Scotland's most formidable music talents was always likely to create sparks. Evergreen is an intriguing collaboration of five songs, that really serves to whet the appetite for more of the same, pushing gently at the boundaries of the contributors' comfort zones. The distinctive voices of Karine Polwart and Kris Drever make for a compelling partnership, with the precision of Polwart's resolute vocals proving the perfect foil for Drever's more easygoing manner. The innovative arrangements of Martin Green's accordion and wurlitzer, and the fiddle of Aidan O'Rourke, flesh out the sound to give a commanding resonance, whilst also embracing quirky contemporary elements along the way.
The title track is the sole composition written by Polwart and Lau themselves; it's a haunting piece, with the fiddle of O'Rourke bringing an air of menace alongside layered vocal harmonies. Their evocative treatment of Dave Goulder's "January Man" subtly teases out the unease of passing time, whilst Lal Waterson's majestic "Midnight Feast" is delivered with an authoritative spirit, making it the stand-out track on the EP. The Blue Nile's "From Rags To Riches" is stripped of the synthetic accompaniment that graces the original, and nestled amongst a spacious acoustic arrangement that actually feels more befitting of the song's spirit. The EP closes with a rendition of "Lord Yester," opening with a most beautiful air, courtesy of Aidan O'Rourke's fiddle, and featuring a measured duet vocal from Polwart and Drever, that highlights precisely what makes this musical marriage so special.
When Karine appeared on Kris Drever's last album, I suggested that I'd like to hear further exploration of this alliance, so Evergreen is something of a bonus for me. I genuinely hope they all get together again to share more of their musical dreams, because they really do form the most glorious partnership. Karine Polwart may prove to be as significant an addition to Lau, as Sandy Denny was to Fairport Convention, all those years ago.
You can catch up with Karine Polwart on her website or on MySpace, and also pay a visit to Lau's website or MySpace page.