Beerjacket @ Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, 25 Nov

In celebration of his new album Silver Cords, Beerjacket plays an intimate show at Sneaky Pete's with a little help from some friends

Live Review by Max Sefton | 27 Nov 2018
  • Beerjacket

The weather outside may be frightful, but it’s warm inside Sneaky Pete’s as Beerjacket songwriter Peter Kelly launches his latest record Silver Cords. Released on the brilliant wee label Scottish Fiction, alongside an accompanying book of short stories, it’s a thoughtful musing on friendship, motivation and the artistic process, and tonight he gives it one of its first airings in front of a small but supportive crowd.

Described by Kelly as a means of giving a physical presence to his music at a time when music is so often consumed digitally, "to make something physical that won't be cast adrift on a shelf in favour of its digital imprint", the accompanying book is an ambitious project that dovetails neatly into his songs. It’s appropriate then that tonight’s support covers plenty of ground too, with evocative poet Michael Pedersen, the drily witty songwriter Julia Doogan and MC Dave Hook (aka Solareye) taking to the stage.

Backed by his comrade DJ Harvey Kartel, Solareye is on typically observant form, delivering one track about the challenges young children present entirely acapella to laughs from the crowd. Recent release Deconstruction (Where the Sun Sets) is a deft takedown of his own hang-ups while Didnae Get Repetitive demonstrates his lyrical gifts and willingness to push himself.

For our headliner Beerjacket this is an intimate show; he perches a little nervously on a chair with his guitar on his knee and Julia Doogan beside him delivering the odd harmony. His guitar playing is a swift mix of strumming, plucking and picking, all done without a plectrum, lending his songs a scrappy, heartfelt intensity. What’s more, the songs from Silver Cords radiate warmth, even if not always good cheer. "I sort of feel like I’ve always got my family with me" Kelly says.

Tracks like album centrepiece Cord and the fleet-fingered Nervous deserve to take their place among the very best tracks from Scottish modern folk stalwarts like Admiral Fallow, and by the time Kelly takes to his feet, stage right, he’s charmed the room.