In the inlay, Kris Drever thanks, ‘All the people I play with in my day job’.

And it’s true – despite the critical acclaim heaped on Kris Drever’s first album, Black Water – mainstream audiences will know Kris as the quieter one who plays with Idlewild’s frontman in their acoustic project, Drever McCusker Woomble, and the folkies will be more acquainted with Lau, his BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning trio.

But hopefully, Mark The Hard Earth will further cement his reputation as one of the best folk singers – no, he doesn’t even need the ‘folk’ tag. Make that his reputation as one of the best singers in the country at present.

OK, so some may scoff at such a statement. But look at – more importantly listen to – the facts: it’s a clear yet distinctive vocal which curls in all the Scots’ corners; it rarely strays from the plaintive, though songs are never dismal or dreary.

And the arrangement is simple, often predictable in an inevitable fashion – McCusker’s fiddle coming in then, the accordion then: it could only be that way.

Mark The Hard Earth has more of an American feel about it, despite that undeniable accent at every twist and turn, and is more contemplative than Black Water as there’s no Harvest Gypsies to lift the mood.

However, album highlight Allegory, picks up pace like a chugging freight train with all the weight of a brooding man leaving aboard.

Release Date 08/03/2010 (Navigator)