From folksy beginnings, Blair Dunlop has been moving in recent years (and over the course of three albums) to a more commercial sound.
The son of singer Judy Dunlop and Fairport Convention’s Ashley Hutchings, Dunlop has a varied performance CV, as well as his musical outings, he also appeared as the young Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Prizes have also not eluded him, winning the 2013 Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards and the Special Jury Prize Premio Ciampi in Italy in 2014.
His Ed Harcourt produced latest album, Notes From an Island features large in this live set. The folk elements are still evident, and are the very heart and soul of his sound, but it’s clear Dunlop has matured greatly. While there’s now a broader appeal to the sound, and a big Americana influence, there’s still real depth to the material and a clear political and social commentary running throughout.
Dunlop and his sound are well suited to intimate venues. That said, it could be argued that Dunlop’s material is so intimate that even this small room sometimes engulfs it. Thoughtful and low-key, the sound could easily be lost in a large venue and that doesn’t necessarily bode well for career expansion. This is music to reflect and relax too, to muse about, not necessarily for a live setting, the audience, while clearly enjoying the gig, are relatively passive for this city. That said, Dunlop is hugely talented and his music is a joy to the ears, he’s a gifted technical vocalist and musician, hopefully his sound will continue to mature and expand to larger venues and audiences. This is music of the highest quality that deserves to be heard by the widest audience possible.