Review: Julia & the Doogans, Traverse Bar

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Believe it or not, the majority of music critics take little pleasure in filing a negative report on a musician’s earnest endeavours, least of all for the sake of exercising prejudice or malice. We are, after all, failed musicians who happen to write a bit (or so the accusation goes).

So, it is with a heavy heart and a degree of reluctance to write that young singer-songwriter Rory Dewar isnae up to much – for the present time at least.

The obstacles thrown up by Dewar’s fallowness are by no means insurmountable: his vocals, while distinctive enough in the context of a quiet midweek acoustic gig, betray some obvious influences from Paolo Nutini, the byproduct of an artist who would be well advised to dig a little deeper for inspiration.

That said, the songwriting at least aspires to as much, and signs of maturity do emerge in this respect. Many of his songs have the good grace to avoid the sort of cliches that you’d grimly expect of a singer-songwriter in the twilight of his teens, and an ode to his brother offers a peek at what a bit of sincerity can do to raise the standard.

By contrast, Julia & the Doogans, a trio of patter-dispensing besoms from Glasgow, have a wealth of experience at their disposal, an embarrassment of riches which is tested two songs in when lead singer Julia Doogan gets herself into a momentary fuddle during Borderline (to which her matter-of-fact response is: “Sorry, I f***** that one up there”) before a fuss-free resumption smooths things over.

Doogan’s casual yet confident demeanour has a reassuring effect on the audience, and her band are no less surefooted.

Silky folk-pop melodies are the order of the evening, kicked off in superlative fashion by Diamonds. An indisputably classy effort, it leaves as much of an impression as Doogan’s attempt to entice punters to buy CDs with the offer of complimentary fridge magnets. An apt choice for a gift, since they seem to have some staying power.