Edinburgh’s intimate and atmospheric Sneaky Pete’s was the venue for a varied and entertaining night of music on 29th July, promoted by Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist Amy Duncan.

The opening set provided us with some angular and intelligent indie pop/folk, courtesy of Candythief (spearheaded by local singer-songwriter Diana de Cabarrus). Her striking original songs were interspersed with a couple of imaginative covers, including an atmospheric take on St James Infirmary Blues.

Next up was Mock Deer (a.k.a. Ricky Damiani, a London-based singer-songwriter), who impressed with the impassioned delivery of his brand of guitar-driven Americana/folk.

For this solo gig, the headliner Amy Duncan made skilful and tasteful use of guitar and vocal loops to complement her own guitar and occasional keyboards, accentuate the intricacy of her songs and provide some flavour of the rhythms and multi-layered and textured arrangements found on much of her recorded work. Duncan’s set began with three new songs which will feature on her next (seventh) album. Emotive opener, The Witness, set the tone with a haunting melody and intimate lyrics and this was followed by Reflection, inspired by a ‘selfie’ photograph and notable for some more moving and personal lyrics, chiming guitar loops and wonderfully fluid guitar fills and runs. Vocal loops were used to dramatic effect in Make It Good, producing a glorious choral swell in the choruses.

Amy Duncan then dipped into her critically-acclaimed 2013 album Cycles Of Life to treat us to the sweeping and majestic When The Dead Are Watching, featuring soaring vocals and mesmerising loops. The fourth new song, Under The Willow, served up more spellbinding vocals and adventurous loops. Inspired by an unsettling dream, the dark and edgy lyrics in The Severed Head (from last year’s Antidote album) contrasted cleverly with Duncan’s calm and measured vocals and delicately layered instrumentation. She returned to the Cycles Of Life album to close her set with the soothing and gently-uplifting Song To Myself, showcasing the pure and graceful lilt of her vocals.

This absorbing and captivating set from Amy Duncan, brimming with exquisite vocals and instrumental virtuosity, was a delight from start to finish. Her elegant and eloquent songs connected on a personal level, creating a very special headspace for artist and audience to share throughout the gig.

Photo courtesy of Mike Ozmond.