Cory Chisel – Oran Mor, Glasgow

American singer songwriter Cory Chisel played a fine set of acoustic Americana music to a large and appreciative crowd in Glasgow last night. The show, part of the Celtic Connections festival, was the first of two the Minnesota native is playing in the city this weekend, and after this excellent performance the second will be well worth seeing too.

Support came from Adam Holmes and his band The Embers. The Edinburgh based singer songwriter has a nice line in gentle country blues, with a traditional folk base mixed with the feel of Americana. His deep voice was well backed by a musically accomplished band, and all of the songs played were taken from his debut album Heirs And Graces. The slow Common Ground, the mournful Oh My God and a beautiful keyboard backed Where The Rain Meets The Hill were the best of a good set.

After the stage was completely cleared apart from two mics, Cory Chisel walked on with singing partner Adriel Denae and his guitar case. In the darkness they carried out a final sound check before beginning to play as the lights came up. It was a very low key opening to what was to be an excellent set of acoustic Americana music.

Chisel was relaxed, joking with the crowd and passing out cans of beer between songs. But when the music started he was all business, his passionate vocal delivery adding much to his lyrics while his guitar playing ranged from strident chords to delicate melodies. And the quite stunning voice of Adriel Denae added some wonderful harmonies, contrasting perfectly with Chisel’s vocal.

Never Meant To Love You from Chisel’s latest album Old Believers was an early highlight, a sweet tale of heartbreak delivered perfectly. Several other tracks from the album were played including She Don’t Mind and I’ve Been Accused. The political The Times Won’t Change was introduced by Cory Chisel saying that he should just play a Woody Guthrie song, “as he wrote all the best ones.” And when a Johnny Cash cover was requested Chisel responded by saying that all his songs were just Johnny Cash songs with the words changed, “we all do it”, an astute comment on the influence Cash still has over American music.

Older song Tennessee was also a lovely Southern duet, while Gram Parsons’ Hickory Wind was a fine cover with Adriel Denae adding a gorgeous verse. And slower song The Savage King, dedicated to Native Americans Chisel grew up with in Minnesota, was a lovely and heartfelt tribute. The set closed with the gospel tinged Over Jordan, where Chisel’s vocal performance was excellent and the crowd clapped along joyously.

An encore was demanded and Cory Chisel soon returned to the stage to play a very good version of Sam Cooke’s classic A Change Is Gonna Come, his soulful vocals giving real feeling to a song of hope before Adriel Denae re-joined him for one last song.

This was a first class set from Cory Chisel and it was very well received by the large crowd. The music was stripped back and simple but the quality of the vocal delivery from Chisel and Adriel Denae meant more instrumentation would have been redundant. Chisel’s excellent songwriting and relaxed stage presence made this a very fine show.

Venue: Oran Mor, Glasgow
Support Band: Adam Holmes And The Embers

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