The Edinburgh Festival has some unusual venues – that is a well-known fact amongst regular Fringe-goers, as avid audience members hop from university building to converted warehouse to local pub and back again. But the Three (or should that be ‘Free’?) Sisters have outdone themselves this year with a Comedy Bus and an American Indian-style teepee dominating the exterior of the popular establishment. It is in the latter, punnily named ‘The Yurt Locker’, that Aussie Blues singer John McNamara can be found at midday, treating the audience to an hour of heartfelt, soulful music from his forthcoming album.
Soulful is rather an understatement. McNamara clearly pours his heart out, not only in the writing of his music but also in its execution, and listeners were hypnotised into silence by his raw, rustic, gravelly tone – such was the authenticity of his character and clothing (especially his hat) that a transportation to the ‘Deep South’ was virtually realised.
McNamara presented a mixture of original music and covers. While his own material was good and individual, some of the lyrics were occasionally a little basic and juvenile. However, one of his later songs, Don’t Wait Too Long, which was written a mere couple of weeks ago, was one of the highlights of the show, a testament to the growing emotional maturity of the young man. A beautiful purity to his voice was revealed during some of the slower, more romantic numbers that could have been implemented a little more throughout the set, in place of the gritty, occasionally brash tone that otherwise dominated. But kudos to the man for overcoming his jet lag and pushing on through to the end.
McNamara sings from deep inside his heart and clearly enjoys what he does. While his music doesn’t last long in the memory after leaving the venue, it is thoroughly enjoyable and the end of the gig came a little too soon, with many of the audience members visibly disappointed that they had to leave the company of such a pleasant and seriously talented young man.