LORI WATSON – Yarrow Acoustic Sessions (Isle Music Scotland ISLE05CD)

Yarrow Acoustic SessionsIf the word you usually associate with the Scots is “dour” ‘I’m afraid this album may reinforce your prejudices. As I understand it Yarrow Acoustic Sessions is the prequel to a full album – working drawings if you will. Lori is supported by Duncan Lyall, who also produced the record, Steven Byrnes and Fiona Black and the accompaniments are, to say the least, spare, with Lori employing a lot of plucked violin.

For those with limited knowledge of Scottish geography, Yarrow in a region of the borders north-west of Keilder and not far from Flodden, hence the inclusion of ‘Flooers O The Forest’ in this set. Lori opens with ‘Yarrow (A Charm)’ based on a poem by Walter Elliot and built on a droning, almost discordant, harmonium by Lyall. Next comes ‘The Flytin O Life And Daith’ – words by Hamish Henderson and music by Alison McMorland – which is not exactly cheering. Then there’s ‘Fause, Fause’, a song I don’t particularly care for in English. Evan as an aficionado of traditional Scottish song, I’m finding this album hard going.

Taking it in isolation I would probably heap praise on ‘Dowie Dens O Yarrow’ although I’d be happier if Duncan Lyall were playing a real piano. Lowi sings mostly in Scots which, as Dick Gaughan would patiently explain, isn’t English with some unfamiliar words but a foreign language from which you can pick out a few words. Thus, ‘Flooers O The Forest’, a long version which I think uses the original 18th century words, is at times incomprehensible, particularly when Lyall is giving the keyboard a real work-out.

I like ‘What A Voice (Blackbird)’ which sounds more like a completed version as does the closing ‘October Song’ with some clever variations of both melody and rhythm and Lori harmonising with herself. If the final project sounds anything like these two tracks, I’ll be very happy.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist’s website: www.loriwatson.net

‘October Song’ – official video:

Lori Watson announces two new albums

Lori Watson

Scots Singer of the Year 2016-17, Lori Watson is a fiddle player, singer and composer. She has drawn on the rich tradition of the Scottish Borders throughout her artistic life, including experimental works and a PhD thesis and creative folio exploring innovation and contemporary traditional music practice. A folk musician with considerable pedigree, Lori is currently touring and recording with Boreas, Iain Morrison and several solo and collaborative projects including guesting with Kate Rusby in 2018 and she has six albums in circulation including two critically acclaimed records featuring her trio Rule Of Three. But this is Lori’s first significant song work and she is lettingus in on the process as well as the finished product.

Lori is touring Yarrow Acoustic Sessions in 2018 with Duncan Lyall on keys, harmonium and bass (Kate Rusby, Treacherous Orchestra) and Chas Mackenzie on guitar (Halton Quartet, Scott Matthews). Follow-up album Yarrow is expected Autumn 2018.

Yarrow Acoustic Sessions is the culmination of an evolving digital album –Watson’s first major song work. Growing up in the Scottish Borders, the Yarrow valley beside Selkirk has been an inspiring place for Lori and acknowledging that this unique and atmospheric area has inspired countless artists over the centuries, she has continued her own exploration of the area through song, music, folklore, history and poetry. This album is a thoughtful selection of songs brought together to convey a sense of Yarrow as Lori knows it. The songs are full of strong natural imagery and tales of our own imperfection: living and dying, growing and decaying, loving, betraying, regretting, accepting, and a kind of madness we just can’t shake.

In addition to vocals and fiddle from Watson, the album features sensitive playing from Duncan Lyall (keys, harmonium and double bass), Steven Byrnes (guitar and bass drum) and Fiona Black (accordion) as well as contributions from poets, writers and composers Hamish Henderson, Walter Elliot, Alison Rutherford, Jean Elliot, Lewis Spence, Alexander Anderson, Alison McMorland, Ed Miller and Robin Williamson. Yarrow Acoustic Sessions reflects Watson’s creative process towards a second, forthcoming, album (Yarrow) that carries these themes beyond conventional folk sounds (hinted at in ‘What A Voice (Blackbird)’.

Dark and brooding, windswept, contoured, joyful, turbulent, sparse, reflective: Yarrow is an exploration of human connections to nature and one another, through time, inspired by the Yarrow valley in the Scottish Borders.

“I’m interested in unfinished works and fragments, whether traditional or original. They’ve always been inspiring starting points for me. I’m creating and interpreting fragments; crafting something that expresses the connections between us and our environment spanning hundreds of years: and then it’s filtered by what inspires and resonates with me right now.”

“I’m very curious about nature and about our psychology; and how we connect, and make sense of, our inner and outer lives. I think this comes through in the music.”

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.loriwatson.net

‘Flooers O The Forest’:

Fraser Shaw – posthumous tune book and CD

Fraser Shaw
The Islay Sessioners

Fraser Shaw was a wonderful piper, whistle player and composer from Glasgow who resided on the Isle of Islay. After his passing in May 2015, a group of friends and family started a Trust in his honour. The foremost aim of the Fraser Shaw Trust is to raise money for the relief of multiple sclerosis, particularly in Argyll, Scotland, through a series of projects and events celebrating Fraser and his music.

A few years before Fraser’s passing, he had it in mind to release a book of his own compositions, the proceeds of which would go towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead, Scotland. Unfortunately, due to his illness, this never came to fruition.

Over the last year and a half, the Trust have been working hard to bring this idea to life and release this much anticipated book, along with an album comprised of Fraser’s tunes. In November 2015 a group of musicians gathered on Islay, to play a special memorial concert at Fraser’s festival, The Islay Sessions, thus laying the groundwork for this album. In January 2016 at Celtic Connections this same group of musicians, “The Islay Sessioners”, as they called themselves, performed this music as part of Islay Night, a concert that both celebrated the music and culture of Islay, and the music of Fraser Shaw.

In September 2016, recording began for the album in Castlesound and Carrier Waves Studios. Many of the arrangements heard at Islay Night have been recorded, along with a few additional tracks. Playing on the album are; Adam Sutherland, Eilidh Shaw, Gráinne Brady, Lori Watson, Innes Watson, Angus MacKenzie, Calum MacCrimmon, Kevin O’Neill, John Somerville, Laura-Beth Salter, Jenn Butterworth, Ross Martin, Tina Jordan Rees, Duncan Lyall, with very special guests; Kathleen Graham, Mhairi Hall and Ross Couper.

The Fraser Shaw Trust is delighted to announce the release of the book and CD on Tuesday June 27th 2017, with a big launch on the Isle of Islay to mark the occasion. The event will take plce in Bruichladdich Hall, with a concert featuring the musicians on the album. A second launch in Glasgow is set for Monday August 7th in St Luke’s Church as part of Piping Live!

Hard copies of Fraser’s CD will be available exclusively at the pre-launch party which will take place in The Sparkle Horse, Glasgow on Tuesday May 16th. Tickets for launch concerts and pre-orders will be for sale online from May 16th through the website – www.FraserShawTrust.com.

Proceeds of the tunebook will go directly towards the MS Care Centre in Lochilphead. Proceeds of the album and further donations will be used for the advancement of education, arts and culture and for the relief of those living with multiple sclerosis in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Islay.

BOREAS – Ahoy Hoy (Isle Music ISLE04CD)

BOREAS Ahoy HoyAhoy Hoy is the debut album from Boreas, the latest expression of Scandi-Scottish music fusion. Britt Pernille Frøholm and Irene Tillung represent the Scandinavian side while Lori Watson and Rachel Newton wave the saltire for the Caledonian contingent. An all-female, mostly string line-up – including Hardanger fiddle and electroharp – with two voices and Tillung’s accordion standing up for free reeds.

The combination of instruments allows for some spooky sounds with the accordion bass and Frøholm’s hardingfele providing drones when needed. A prime example is Frøholm’s ‘Bjørnen’, a dark and gloomy pair of compositions. The first song we hear is the single, ‘North Sea Holes’, written by Ewan MacColl for Singing The Fishing and a most appropriate choice for Boreas. We may think ourselves fortunate that they chose to include ‘Happy Set’, four traditional tunes including a puirt a beul, ‘Bat’ An Tàilleir’, and ‘Geld Him Lasses, Geld Him’ which I’m pleased to say doesn’t have words but which can be found in a collection of bawdy tunes. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

The second song is a superb setting of ‘Braw Sailin’, traditional but with adaptations by Watson. It’s a perfect example of the way Boreas construct a track. Lori’s is first heard unaccompanied but a fiddle drone creeps in quietly. With each verse the accompaniment builds in intensity and then, for a split second, everything stops before picking up again.

This is a record that demands repeated listening – I swear that some tracks sound different the second time round. Impossible, of course, but you’ll hear different things, a perception informed by listening carefully the first time, no doubt.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: http://boreasband.com/

Bjørnen – official video:

Ahoy Hoy – Boreas release debut album

Ahoy Hoy
Photograph by Louise Bichan

AHOY HOY is the eagerly awaited debut album from Boreas, shaped by spanning the expanses of the North Sea. In this recording the band have created something both warm and sparse, shadowy and glistening, simple and intricate, it is indeed a glorious debut.

An enchanting musical union between Scotland and Norway, Boreas began as a collaboration between Lori Watson from the Scottish Borders and Britt Pernille Frøholm from Hornindal in Sogn og Fjordane. Lori and Britt are joined by award winning accordionist Irene Tillung from Voss and Rachel Newton from Edinburgh. Together, Boreas have a passion for new and experimental forms of traditional music creating a unique expression based on Norwegian and Scottish folk music. Boreas seek to emphasize old traditions and shared musical aspects, while exploring the spaces between their different yet connected cultures.

Britt Pernille Frøholm (Hardanger/fiddle) has released several albums and frequently works across genres including solo traditional music on Hardanger fiddle (National Champion 2014), folk bands, electroacoustic compositions, collaboration with contemporary composers and free-improvising big band.

Lori Watson (fiddle, voice) is the first doctor of Artistic Research in Scottish Music having completed her PhD in contemporary Traditional music practice. She has released several critically acclaimed albums under her own name and with trio Rule of Three. Her songwriting and compositions explore tradition and innovation, and she is in demand as an educator in Higher Education, and youth music.

Irene Tillung (accordion) is a versatile musician with a background in both classical/contemporary and traditional music. She has released several award winning albums with her groups Tindra, Maar and Frøholm/Tillung. Collaborating with Polish trio Kroke, she has toured widely following the release of a live album in 2010. Irene has composed several commissioned works, one of them for Førde Folk Music Festival in 2009.

Rachel Newton (Scottish harp, voice, electroharp) is a singer and harpist, regularly touring with her own trio, The Shee, The Furrow Collective and the Emily Portman Trio. Rachel has also performed with Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code and The Elizabethan Session among many others. Her solo albums The Shadowside (2012) and Changeling (2014) earned her much critical acclaim including nominations for Album of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Artists’ website: http://www.boreasband.com/

Boreas release MacColl song ahead of debut album

Boreas release MacColl song ahead of debut album
Photograph by Louise Bichan

‘North Sea Holes’ is the single taken from Boreas’ forthcoming debut album Ahoy Hoy. The song was written by Ewan MacColl and the band are glad to have already received high praise for their version from Ewan’s son Calum MacColl (‘Very lovely indeed…beautiful! I love it. Very atmospheric, like the harmonic journey.).

An enchanting musical union between Scotland and Norway, Boreas began as a collaboration between Lori Watson from the Scottish Borders and Britt Pernille Frøholm from Hornindal in Sogn og Fjordane. Lori and Britt are joined by award winning accordionist Irene Tillung from Voss and Rachel Newton from Edinburgh.

Britt Pernille Frøholm (Hardanger/fiddle) has released several albums and frequently works across genres including solo traditional music on Hardanger fiddle (National Champion 2014), folk bands, electroacoustic compositions, collaboration with contemporary composers and free-improvising big band.

Lori Watson (fiddle, voice) is the first doctor of Artistic Research in Scottish Music having completed her PhD in contemporary Traditional music practice. She has released several critically acclaimed albums under her own name and with trio Rule of Three. Her songwriting and compositions explore tradition and innovation, and she is in demand as an educator in Higher Education, and youth music.

Irene Tillung (accordion) is a versatile musician with a background in both classical/contemporary and traditional music. She has released several award winning albums with her groups Tindra, Maar and Frøholm/Tillung. Collaborating with Polish trio Kroke, she has toured widely following the release of a live album in 2010. Irene has composed several commissioned works, one of them for Førde Folk Music Festival in 2009.

Rachel Newton (Scottish harp, voice, electroharp) is a singer and harpist, regularly touring with her own trio, The Shee, The Furrow Collective and the Emily Portman Trio. Rachel has also performed with Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code and The Elizabethan Session among many others. Her solo albums The Shadowside (2012) and Changeling (2014) earned her much critical acclaim including nominations for Album of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Together, Boreas have a passion for new and experimental forms of traditional music creating a unique expression based on Norwegian and Scottish folk music. Boreas seek to emphasize old traditions and shared musical aspects, while exploring the spaces between their different yet connected cultures. Spanning the North Sea has shaped their debut album Ahoy Hoy and the single from the album North Sea Holes. In this recording the band have created something both warm and sparse, shadowy and glistening, simple and intricate.

If you would like to download the track or just listen to a snippet of it then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.boreasband.com