Cara Luft @ Whelan’s. Sunday 9th June 2013


Tonight is the third date in a UK & Ireland Tour that sees Cara Luft visit eighteen different venues in just over twenty one days. A hectic schedule that sees this gifted Canadian talent joined by Scott Poley on additional guitars and the two musicians display a great chemistry in their playing and their onstage presence. Blessed with amazing musicianship, this is the first time that Cara Luft has played in Dublin and her enthusiasm is energizing as she plays an impressive set across a diverse range of songs.

With a confident onstage presence, Cara regales the audience with stories of her right wing aunt in Idaho, her bust up with American Customs and her song-writing collaborations with co- writer, Lewis Melville, by e mail. There is plenty of fun and laughter when she breaks a string mid song and continues singing, while attempting to change the broken string, all with hilarious consequences and a sound engineer who saves the day (you had to be there.)!!

A founder member of the much feted, Wailin Jennies, who rose to great heights in the North American folk/roots scene, Cara Luft has released three wonderful solo recordings that would grace any discerning music collectors armoury. Her skill on guitar and banjo is of the highest quality and with an ability to switch between traditional arrangements, English Folk songs and country tinged tales of love and loss, Cara Luft shows an impressive musicality and deep knowledge of tradition.

There are a few cover versions, notably ‘Bring ‘Em All In’ by Mike Scott and a beautiful arrangement of the Bert Jansch song ‘Black Water Side’ which she prefaces with a tale concerning the influences of certain songs that appeared on Led Zeppelin records in the day.

However, it is on her latest release, Darlingford, that Cora really shines and we are treated to a number of the selected tracks during this ninety minutes of warm and wonderful music. Scott Poley serves each song with an impressive playing technique that never sees him clutter the arrangements, instead adding subtle nuance to the dynamic on display.

Cara Luft has a great gift in taking the personal and turning it into a universal feeling and message that reaches out to all who listen. Long may she reign.

The opening act, Polly Barrett from Kinsale, played an interesting set of songs that bodes well for the future of this talented singer songwriter. Having busked to gain experience Polly is about to release her second recording and she displays a quiet confidence onstage. Her final song ‘Almost Friend’ was particularly arresting.

Congratulations to the music promoter, Roadworks Tours, for bringing interesting and original artistic talent to these shores. Gerry Rickard, owner of Roadworks, ably assisted by Denis Goodbody, deserves greater support in their activities and with Tom Russell due to play on 14th July next, a full house is the least that can be expected.  

Review and photograph by Paul McGee