'Fragile People' is Davy Cowan’s hugely enjoyable debut album, intended to launch him on what will, I sincerely hope, be a very successful solo career.

Davy made his name with Highland band, Coinneach, but if you’re therefore expecting a Celtic Rock album you’ll be in for a surprise. The album features fourteen self-penned songs based on a wide variety of themes and experiences, some of them stunningly original. In amongst songs of love lost and found, train journeys and boat trips, there’s The Gatecrasher about, yes, gate crashing parties (or even a wake) and the hilarious, The Likes of Me, a song about an anorak-wearing train spotter that left me in stitches.

Davy’s approach to song writing is spot on — straight forward words and catchy tunes that soon have you humming along. My favourites include the opening track, Moving On, the beautifully crafted Song for Summer and Each Day I Die, and indeed the title track itself. That said, there simply isn’t a weak song on the album.

The album is well-produced and features some fine musicianship — as well as being a fine musician in his own right, Davy is well supported by a number of his friends and colleagues. He performs his songs with a raw energy and zest, it says here — I’d certainly agree with that! A word of warning though, as this review is for a folk-oriented website, Davy includes amongst his influences not only folk and country but also rock and punk. This isn’t an album for the folk purist or, indeed, for any of those who like their music neatly pigeon-holed. However, if you simply like music that’s fun, thought-provoking and original, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Fragile People.

Best known for his work with Celtic rockers Coinneach, Davy Cowan emerges here in solo mode with a cracking long player chock-a-block with good yarns and bursting with sing-along tunes.

While his folk rock roots shine through – there’s also a nod to bluegrass and country – the lasting impression is of a storytelling songwriter at the top of his form regardless of genre.

Whether it’s the restless shuffle of “Moving On” or the ode to youth that is “16 + Reckless” , the album bristles with ideas. Sift through the 60 minutes on offer and you’ll find more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.

The driving “Unfortunately Yours” positively spits with indignation while at the other end of the spectrum the lovely “Each Day I Die” is a wistful call to seize the moment and stop procrastinating.

Whoever inspired “The Gatecrasher” – the tale of an ultimately lonely party animal – will probably cringe on hearing the story relayed here. Think of The Beautiful South at their brilliant best and you get an idea of what’s in store.

Here and there are gentle washes of accordion though the touches are subtle embellishments to his own acoustic guitar. All in all a thoroughly satisfying affair that has you going back for more.

Scotland has always been a breeding ground for great songwriters, and I am proud to present to you Davy Cowan from Invergordon, Scotland.

Davy's album Fragile People is steeped in the British Folk tradition, but with many modern touches to keep it from feeling like an exercise in style over substance. The songs are soaked in warmth, humor and knowing lyrics.

The material ranges from the playful "The Gatecrasher" and "The Likes Of Me" to the well observed slices of life of "Show Me The Way", "16 & Reckless", and "Moving On". He evokes many different people: Al Stewart, Donovan, David Gray, even R.E.M., for that nod to the present, on "Last Stop". The last song on the album, however, is nothing like the previous 13: "Praise" is a brilliant fusion of Travis and Tears For Fears that is lush, poppy and sounds like a hit single to me.

Davy Cowan makes British Folk rock like I thought they stopped making when it became unfashionable. Fragile People deserves to heard by everyone and here's hoping he gets signed to a distribution deal in the U.S.

4.0 STARS

SINGER, songwriter and guitarist Davy Cowan hails from Invergordon, which must be a somewhat eccentric place if that's where he encountered the characters he brings to life in 'Fragile People', his debut solo album.
He tells us of love and lost hopes, of missed train and ferry voyages, party gatecrashers and train-spotting - and yet the effect is not a hymn to the anoraks among us, but a quirky and at times neatly ironic comment on the human condition, all in a style that slips in and out, hinting at bluegrass, folk, country and pop.

This is an intriguingly different album to Davy's Coinneach performances - he has used his freedom as a soloist in a creative but well-rounded way, and his often witty and original lyrics stand up to multiple listenings. He is best on the personal experience types of song, such as Show me the Way, Moving On, and above all Sixteen and Reckless, where the ideas are lightly but thoughtfully handled, and he has a rare turn of phrase and an ear for a good rhyme. The guitar work is clean and effective, and when backed by his array of gifted friends (especially on the fiddle), the layers of tune are a delight. This is definitely an album that catches you lightly but firmly from the start, and grows on you with every listening. Buy it!

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Davy Cowan "It's Summertime"

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(No doubt about it, Davy Cowan is a unique talent and this is a highly listenable album. (Maverick)

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  • Sep 22
    MARKET BAR,  Inverness
     
  • Sep 23
    The British Legion Thurso,  Thurso
     
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  • Sep 28
    The Arch Inn Loopallu Festival Fringe,  West Shore Street
     
  • Sep 30
    Loopallu Festival,  Ullapool