Gig review: Jenn Butterworth & Laura-Beth Salter

BOTH well-kent linchpins of Glasgow’s thriving folk-session circuit, also known for their work with The Shee, Shooglenifty, Dougie MacLean, Anna Massie and Rachel Hair, singer/guitarist Jenn Butterworth and singer/mandolinist Laura-Beth Salter formed their duo for the best and simplest of reasons – a shared passion for the same types of songs and tunes.
Bob Dylan was among the inspirations for this folk duo. Picture: PABob Dylan was among the inspirations for this folk duo. Picture: PA
Bob Dylan was among the inspirations for this folk duo. Picture: PA

Jenn Butterworth & Laura-Beth Salter

Admiral Bar, Glasgow


Not that there was much in the way of “type” discernible in their deftly varied set-list here, which placed greater emphasis on their vocal repertoire – in keeping with the folk-club setting, and an audience keen to sing along – than it might have done in other contexts, but nonetheless paraded their instrumental prowess, particularly Salter’s superbly fluent melodic picking, in a delectable handful of tune sets, referencing traditions from Appalachia to Sweden.

The songs too ranged widely in origin, with US material predominating slightly, borrowed from authors including Tim O’Brien, Gillian Welsh, Bob Dylan and Kate Wolf, but skilfully re-crafted with fresh, imaginative arrangements, displaying more of that instrumental finesse and near-uncanny mutual attunement. At times their reach somewhat exceeded their grasp – albeit that when it comes to the gutsy defiance of Bessie Smith’s Me And My Gin, or the searing intensity of Mindy Smith’s Come To Jesus, matching the originals would challenge any singer.

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A few self-penned numbers displayed the pair’s beautifully nuanced phrasing and delicately entwined timbres to advantage, while an exhilarating final medley, comprising a Scottish/American pair of tunes before Bert Jansch’s If I Had A Lover, brought all their considerable strengths to the fore.

Seen on 04.09.14