Scotland is currently blessed with a crop of superb young female singers and Siobhan Miller is right up there in the top section of that list. Although still a young lady, she has been prominent on the folk scene for many years, appearing at clubs, concerts, festivals and regularly on television. She deserves it! Her father before her was a product of the Rutherglen Academy Ballads Club run by folklorist and author of the Scottish Folk Singer and 101 Scottish Songs! Norman Buchan. Her dad, Brian Miller, was only a year behind me in that school and the grounding we got there set us and our families up for a career in folk music. It is now in our blood!
Strangely enough, I can identify her father’s influence in Siobhan’s choice of material for this CD…although more than capable of it, as heard in the final track – Andy M Stewart’s ‘The Ramblin’ Rover’, Siobhan does not try and ram Scottishness down your throat. Some of her tracks have almost an English sound to them. Possibly only people with fifty plus years involved in folk music will understand what I mean by that.
Strata is a fabulous CD that I will listen to over and over again, and that is due, simply, to Siobhan’s beautiful singing. There is no overstretching, no screeching and no overdoing the grace notes – she just sings, beautifully! She has been clever in choosing a section of songs for the CD that we all know, and then making them her own. One of the first songs I ever learned was ‘The Unquiet Grace’ and I thought I maybe didn’t need to ever hear it again. However, Siobhan’s version is superb and emphasises just what a great song it is.
I cannot give the production full marks. It is generally well produced but the over-prominent bass could have ruined it all for me, especially in the first couple of tracks. It is interesting to note that the producer of the album is also the bass player on the album!
Possibly, Siobhan could have been a bit more adventurous in her song selection because she has such a wide repertoire of songs that I have heard her sing. Whatever, she has chosen eleven great songs and you will love them all. She does emphasise that the song selection process “is the culmination and an illustration of her musical journey to date”. She has long been keen to record these songs as a tribute to her many influences including Sheila Stewart, Dick Gaughan, Gordeanna McCulloch, Rod Paterson and her father. She includes tracks from Bob Dylan and Ed Pickford.
My favourite Siobhan is when she is getting suck into a song with great gusto. With the exception of the final track, Siobhan’s voice on the CD is generally more soft and throaty. It reminds me of Kate Rusby and that does disappoint me a bit. A star should never remind me of another singer, it should be the other way around. Still, her singing is still great. Just imagine how great I think she is on her up-beat, get stuck in there girl, stuff.
She is supported by a fabulous group of musicians including Aaron Jones, Phil Cunningham, Kris Drever, Aiden O’Rourke and many more. My final assessment – really great album. Would I want Strata in my collection? Of course, I would go out and buy it.
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Artist’s website: www.siobhanmiller.com
‘Bonny Light Horseman’ – live with her band: