Kris Drever adds to his already impressive solo library of work with Where The World Is Thin.
Release date: 2nd October 2020
Label: Reveal Records
Format: CD / DL
The role of Kris Drever in Lau brings to mind that of Greg Lake in ELP. The one who had the guitar and sang nice songs and was kind of the poster boy (don’t quote me on the last part). Martin Green being Emerson, the electronic whizz and Aidan O’Rourke as Palmer, working wildly round his instrument. It’s probably an oversimplification, but Lau reminds me of ELP in the way they’ve subverted a genre as opposed to indulged in overambitious orchestral tours and regulation prog rock pomposity. And don’t be fooled by the similarity of the angular cover design to Radiohead’s Kid A…rambling art rock or a teasing Yorke styled whine isn’t on the agenda.
Back to the plot. He (Drever, not Greg Lake) has released several quality solo works over the past decade. Mark The Hard Earth, Black Water and If Wishes Were Horses are all albums that like Neil Young, Van Morrison and parts of Dylan’s catalogue, are what Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson (on their The Album Years podcast) call no risk discs.
On his latest splurge of creativity, he’s already sent four ‘singles’ out into the world ahead of the album. You may have been unable to resist, but for those with the willpower, the opportunity experience of the whole of Where The World Is Thin proves well worth the wait.
You’re rewarded with a lovely and intimate setting for the nine songs. So much so you pick out clearly the rub of the fingers on the guitar strings on the opening title track. Drever as close to the mic as to be speaking a gnats whisker from your ear, a busy but subtle accompaniment playing along.
An album full of astute observation and comment – “we’re getting better like a classic line” is one that sticks from the first listening. An album that’s been gestating slowly for several years after being commissioned to write a song about the sinking of the German High Fleet in Orkney at the end of WWI.
Scapa Flow 1919 originates from summer of 2016 and Drever talks of the need to “chase down every fact I could find and consume it to make it right. I didn’t want to sing a song on national radio about such a specific historical event and have it full of holes and errors.” It’s that attention to detail and musical songcraft that stand as reminders to the man’s stature.
Moments that appear deeply personal as he evokes the “you know more than you know” line and wisdom from the “I sat once where you are now” perspective. The starkness of the accompaniment as he delivers his words of wisdom. Two songs in and there’s he’s already imparting a richness. One that flows into Sanday and Scapa Flow 1919 where images and memories float over a spacey landscape.
There’s some lovely guitar work that takes centre stage in Hunker Down/That Old Blitz Spirit before the rhythm shuffle takes the song into a cool jazzy interlude. The gentle lull on Wrestlin’ Winds gives way to a country fiddle and swing and then romantic strings on Hollow Trees.
Kris Drever has become a musician who is Mr Reliable. A calm and steady presence with a rich presence who never fails to come up with work that is thoughtful and crafted. Where The World Is Thin is a set of mature reflection of someone who continues to maintain his status as a class act at the top of his game.
Listen More Than You Know here: