If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, sings Kris Drever in the title track of his new album If Wishes Were Horses. Part personal memoir and part disquisition into Philosophical matters and the human condition, this album sounds whimsical as it is serious.
The eleven songs combine elements of pop, British folk and soft rock. His musical style is reminiscent of Donovan and John Martyn. Vocal layers embellish some songs with complex treatment. The production highlights the sound of the acoustic guitar, making the instrument brighter and warmer above the soft swirls of vocals and percussion. The bass sets the balance between the light percussion and the whispy strums.
Further exploration into his website sheds light to the album:
If Wishes Were Horses is a collection of semi-biographical songs covering the universal, and not so universal, themes of education, politics, sex, love, ennui, self-employment, social migration and Shetland. Drever’s recent outpouring of songs stems from a move back to the Northern Isles, Shetland this time rather than his native Orkney and the discovery of new lyrical voices to describe his life, times and wild new surroundings.
I haven’t heard of his work with Lau. But I will definitely go look because his style and craftsmanship are captivating. The 2016 Celtic Connections performance made an impression, further cementing his status as a singer-songwriter of heartfelt songs.
If Wishes Were Horses is an album with mid-tempo songs. With the exception of the last track Going to the North with its fast percussion rendering but even then, the relaxed mood remains. The same tempo is found in the fourth track Shipwrecked with its hypnotic vocals and dreamy arrangement. There are many beautiful songs in this album and I think it really deserves to have a part in your ‘top artists’ collection.
I can listen to If Wishes were Horses again and again and be wrapped in that blanket of wonder, amusement and longing -hese emotions that get regal treatment in the artistry of Kris Drever.