Edinburgh based singer-songwriter and guitarist Simon Kempston can sound like folk’s answer to Roger Chapman as he declaims his angst-suffused songs in that querolous vibrato, an artful melancholy generated by his delicate fingerstyle guitar and the strings of cellist Sebastian Mellor and violinist Iain Gordon Macfarlane, with occasional piano and low-key percussion from Neil Martin and Fia Rua respectively. The title track is an edgy contemplation of a seduction couched in lush strings, The Dust and the Paint evokes wistful nostalgia, whilst Kempston intones The Underdog Soldier in an almost incantatory manner, pulsing strings heightening the tension
A Fine Line’ is the latest album from skilled musician and wordsmith Simon Kempston. Kempston is a most dedicated musician, constantly striving to perfect his eclectic fingerstyle guitar and exploring various musical traditions. His vibrato is unique and sensitive, his lyrics are just beautiful and the arrangements may showcase great musicianship but they are sparse and simple. This is a man who sets poetry to music – Celtic storytelling at its best. The subject matter is varied and haunting, from the failing record shop of ‘The Dust and The Paint’ to the beautiful metaphoric ‘Burning Car’ and the Balkans inspired ‘Chasing Rabbits’. His social commentary is contemplative and honest. The stand out songs were ‘The Only Way to Say Goodbye’ in which Kempston sings of ‘a concoction of romance’ which perfectly describes the sound he creates with this folk, soul & jazz combination & ‘A City Beautiful’ with its elegant Celtic sound. The beauty of ‘A Fine Line’ grows with every listen, and it is a collection of songs which is incredibly reflective, intelligent and deserving of serious attention
It is not too terribly often I can compliment a singer songwriter guitarist on both his skills as a very good songwriter and a very good finger-style guitarist. But Edinburgh based Simon Kempston gets high mark in both categories. His vocal work is also excellent as he constructs intriguing melodies that are both comfortable, yet take some intriguing paths on the way to journey’s end. The guitar work is solid with more to offer than that of the heavy strumming singer songwriters. There are strings, piano, and a bodhran to spice things up and help create a full sound with just enough sonic space to allow instruments and voice to command attention when warranted.
Very fine album from a very fine young Scottish musician
BBC Radio Scotland