Scotland-based four-piece group The Bevvy Sisters (not all sisters, or even all women) enthrall and amaze as they bring us their unique stamp on Americana classics and their own songs. The three ladies open slow and atmospherically with a cover of “Sylvie”, in a cappella that allows them to show off their impressive voices and fine vocal arrangements, backed up by David Donnelly's impressively low and deep, resounding voice. It's captivating to watch such a sound erupt.
The band’s dynamics work perfectly together and they clearly enjoy themselves on stage.
They glide through their own songs and covers of blues, jazz, soul and country with sparkling accuracy and affection, soul and fun. The covers they perform are reworked with originality and passion as if the songs were their own. Donnelly on guitar elevates the performance by adding a layer of technical intricacy, with nimble finger picking, although its not necessary since their voices work well on their own. In their version of See-Line Woman, he uses the guitar to drum out a primal rhythm. Cera Impala adds to the bluesy feel on banjo, and also takes a turn on the guitar.
The expertly controlled voices complement each other gorgeously; from Heather Macleod's smooth honey tones, to Gina Rae's jazzy easiness, and Impala's higher, dreamier voice. As well as being technically glorious, the voices carry diverse lyrics delightfully from the dark to the bizarre, from the sombre and lonely Whisky, to the murder ballad Willow Garden and the saucy Row My Boat.
Their name appropriately draws to mind connotations of The Beverley Sisters or The Andrews Sisters, whose vocal skills and sass they share. But there is something more interesting going on here, musically and lyrically. There’s a wider range of influences, with lyrics that are darker and more substantial.
The band’s dynamics work perfectly together and they clearly enjoy themselves on stage. There’s plenty of mischievous banter and at one point they use their tuning time to erupt into a Scottish drinking song, not wasting a moment. When they insist that all of the audience click and clap along, it sounds less like a threat and more like a good-natured invitation that no one chooses to decline, which can be unusual at the fringe.
Apparently not enough people in Edinburgh know about The Bevvy Sisters, although this should change. Nonetheless, they do not put up a diminutive performance and instead take control of the space with soul and authenticity. Those in the audience know they’ve seen something special.