Born in Seattle, raised in Boston and now resident in upstate New York, singer-songwriter Anna Coogan visited Bute for the fourth time this week - and her delight at being able to return to the island was clear for all to see.
Coogan had spent part of her day on the island bathing in the cool waters of the Firth of Clyde on one of the hottest days of the year, but the smile which barely left her face from beginning to end of her gig on Wednesday night suggested she didn’t find the rather warmer surroundings of St Paul’s Church Hall any less to her liking.
Her set primarily comprised music from the four CDs she’s released since 2010 - two of them solo collections and two recorded with her touring partner, Roman guitarist Daniele Fiaschi, whose instrumental abilities frequently left the capacity audience open-mouthed with delight.
Coogan’s own style is determinedly upbeat, even if the subject matter of her songs isn’t always cheery - a perfect example being The Birth Of The Stars, written in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings last year and a flag of hope amid the fear which surrounded the attacks.
Other highlights included State Of Grace, a chance to “let Daniele off the leash a little bit”, a cover of Tom Petty’s Free Falling, featuring Andy Walters of Munro’s B&B in Ardbeg on backing vocals, and the rousing closing number Dreaming My Life Away, complete with enthusiastic audience participation.
Wednesday’s gig was one of the last on Coogan and Fiaschi’s current UK tour - Coogan herself returns to Britain in October to play at the Glasgow Americana festival, and on the strength of her latest Bute show her talent is one well worth seeking out.