Review: Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake, Summerhall, Edinburgh, Five stars

A strip of vertical mirrors lines the back of the stage throughout Kathryn Joseph’s theatrical rendering of her remarkable second album, From When I Wake The Want Is, presented on this five date tour as a low-key spectacle by the Glasgow-based Cryptic company. More mirrors are attached to Joseph’s piano, so it looks like some junk-yard steam-punk contraption about to be powered into the skies.

It is to designer James Johnston’s cut-glass slivers hanging all-angles in a row behind her that Joseph sings to first, squaring up to her own image in a set of invocations that are possibly the ultimate in self-reflective soul-baring. When Joseph finally turns to the audience mid-way through the album’s title track, it is with a fearlessness that defines the raw candour of her songs as she pounds at the piano keys with a driven insistence.

As directed by Josh Armstrong, and with little pause between songs, the album is revealed as a suite that evolves into a hypnotic whirlwind of warring emotions, where love and anger tug against each other over hymnal, school assembly piano married to arcane electronic beats.

As wind sounds roar, Joseph stands and sips on a glass of red wine, showing off the full splendour of body architect Marketa Kratochvilova’s bespoke jewellery she is adorned in. Bathed in Nich Smith’s lighting, she looks like a warrior queen enjoying her down-time before being embraced by the erotic spirit of Molly Bloom.

At one point Joseph flips the mirrors over, so scarlet and purple lights flicker and bounce off their plain white bases like flames while giant shadows are cast onto the ceiling. With the audience huddled adoringly close to the performance, the stage maybe could have done with being a few inches higher, but no matter, Joseph soars anyway in a perfect evocation of her rare and precious art.