Out Lines, in case you didn’t know, comprises of James Graham of The Twilight Sad, Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph and producer Marcus MacKay. They got together to work on the Easterhouse Conversations Project, the aim of which was to capture the voices and lives of the people of Easterhouse in Glasgow. Not only were their voices heard, the album that resulted from this project, Conflats, gave their voices and stories power and grace. Its seven songs which are already full of heart were then given the opportunity to beat loudly to the audience at St Luke’s as part of the annual Celtic Connections Festival.
The setting of St Luke’s could not have been a better fit for Out Lines, the old church feels perfect for them in the same way Franz Ferdinand fit with The Art School or Belle and Sebastian with The Kelvingrove Bandstand.
First off we had ‘Buried Guns’, its glorious slow build was somewhat hampered by a wee sound glitch which thankfully was quickly sorted and James’s powerful voice gives way to Kathryn’s melodious, soothing vocals.
The narrative of the lyrics weaves through the music like lightning weaves through the sound of thunder but in a beautiful and evocative way. They fit and they twist and turn whilst your emotions do the same, you’re touched by the lyrics and your heart soars at the beauty of their voices and music. This is heard most clearly on ‘There Is a Saved Place’.
The audience were thoroughly impressed with the trio who appear to have generated a close working relationship. It’s obvious they really like each other to the point that a wee bit of banter and slagging could take place which I always like to see. James had said if he were at one of Kathryn’s gigs he would be at the back yelling “cheer up” and there was good patter and a warmth throughout.
The shock moment of the evening was when they announced the next song would be an ABBA track. I thought this was part of the bants as I just couldn’t imagine it but you know what? It was ABBA as I had never imagined and could never have imagined, it was stunning. They played a cover of ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’ and turned it into a haunting ballad so different it sounded like an original Out Lines song. It became a stirring love song with depth and meaning entwined into it that was never apparent to me before, it went from pop song to sincere sonnet.
For me Out Lines are the perfect band to sit and listen to with a glass of red (non-alcoholic options are available), and I mean really listen, take in the lyrics, imagine those people’s lives as if you are listening to an audio book but with the most astonishing soundtrack behind it. However wonderful it feels to do this at home, the live version is even more epic.