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Listen: Michael Roulston & Dusty Limits – Psycho

By ; August 8, 2013 at 6:02 AM 

Dusty Limits

If you’re currently in Edinburgh, Scotland, then you’ll undoubtedly be aware that’s there’s an overstuffed arts festival going at the moment on called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Bringing together theatre, comedy, music, and every other kind of art form you can think into one city, anyone looking to partake in the a piece of culture is set to be inundated with choice. Musically, the festival has taken a drastic dip in quality since contracts were shifted; whereas years before you had Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and plenty of other big names on the bill, now you’re lucky to get anything appealing, if anything at all (though there are a few local names making the list, such as Withered Hand, and the Gramophone Jass Band should you be looking for something swinging).

Thus, one has to look elsewhere for engaging music – by that I mean outside of the Music section of the Fringe programme – but thankfully, as mentioned above, there’s plenty to choose from. This year I was introduced to the world of Dusty Limits, a scolding, sharp, and delightfully bitter cabaret singer whose humour can be as dark as his jet black hair (not pictured above). His show Psycho was the first show I took in this year, and it’s still with me. Limits’ songs – written with the supremely talented Michael Roulston who accompanies on piano – have a way of seeping under your skin, and days after, the mere mention of Limits’ name seems to start a few neurons in your head firing. His whimsical take on how to deal with an ageing population and his persistence on how degrading and wrong it is to label mental illness are thoughtful both upon first listen, and cleverly candid on second glance. Limits is a fine and finely-tuned personality that draws your attention as much as he demands it. He’s subtle, wry, and can be scathingly dry (“Thanks for coming guys! [I] hope a bus doesn’t hit you on the way home,” he says sardonically to two crowd members who leave just as he’s starting a song), but his bitterness is alluring. Michael Roulston’s piano playing is also worth another mention, showing how adaptable Limits is across a spectrum of genres, from lounging blues, to Depeche Mode-like electro pop, to “noodly piano jazz”. Psycho manages to capture that rare talent of someone who can inspire empathy while also remaining amusing in equal amounts (his off the cuff description of George Osbourne is near-perfect). By delving deeper into his own psyche, he well and truly seems like he’s reaching his own limits without sounding like he’s running his well dry.

Roulston has thankfully put a few live cuts from the show up on his Soundcloud, and while they don’t give the full picture of what you can get from the show, they certainly act as a tempting taster. “Silhouette Town” is film noir-ready lament while “Reunion” is contrastingly fast-paced and quick-witted skip and dance through Limits’ family tree. Listen to these tracks and two others below, and keep your eyes peeled for an album release later this year. If you want to hear more tracks, then you can find them collected here, and, of course, if you’re in Edinburgh, see the show.


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