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Aural Fix April 05 Kevin McLeod Live

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Aural Fix April 05 Kevin McLeod Live
Geoffrey Armes

Kevin McLeod Live

Kavehaz is a largish room, and the soundsystem puny. I was sitting towards the back, hanging out with Meredith Bliss (who booked the gig) and Billboard staffer Kristina Tunzi, dodging salad forks and musicians arriving to play the next set. However, even from this vantage point I could feel Kevin McLeod’s warmth, and see the odd subtle theatrical gesture he made to reinforce a line or guitar riff. He doesn’t swagger, but he definitely performs. Echoing the old adage about playing to the audience as if it is a solitary friend, he told me later that he often finds the one or two tables in front of the stage, and plays to them.
To paraphrase Morrissey: here’s a singer/songwriter who can say something to me about my life. In troubadour fashion he’s telling stories about children, neighborhood squabbles or the nuances of a lover’s heart, all from a perspective of experience and knowledge. There’s a calm surety about his touch, no youthful angst and histrionics here, just an inexorable voice that bores deep from his experience into yours. Vocally he occupies classic singer/songwriter territory, his tone calm and seductive, reminiscent of Bert Jansch or James Taylor perhaps, but laced with the intensity of Mike Scott. McLeod is a real guitar player too, coaxing lyrical runs and intricate voicings from his Lowden, fingerpicking through light instrumentals, but able to cross-pick and strum with real drive on more ’urban’ numbers like ’Sirens in the Distance’.

Hidden in the back of McLeod’s CD, ’The Road Home’ is a quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan (’to him who understands music, it is a living thing’), juxtaposed next to a picture of Kevin with (presumably) two of his children. Khan’s musical philosophising insists that harmony is a universal law, and that as well as playing good notes the musician should ’put oneself in harmony with oneself and with others’. These sentiments clearly inform Kevin Mcleod when he takes the stage.