I have to say, and with a heavy heart, that I really didn’t like Siobhan Miller’s previous album and I’m pleased to say that to my ears All Is Not Forgotten is a considerable improvement on Mercury. Siobhan has returned to the mix of traditional and modern songs that made Strata so good but she has not cast her net quite so far and relies on her regular co-writing team of Kris Drever and Euan Burton. I rather miss her interpretations of Si Khan and Bob Dylan.
Let’s start with the positives. The words are intelligible and the absence of drums is a blessing and the selection of material clearly has not been aimed at the pop market. The record opens with the title track, a really good song from the Drever/Miller/Burton stable with a lyric that talks about opening up “chapters that have been unread for years” – a delightful image.
Next come two traditional songs: ‘May Morning Dew’ and ‘Selkie’. The latter is perhaps over-familiar but the arrangement featuring the acoustic guitars of Kris Drever and Innes White raises its profile. Drever and Burton wrote the pretty ‘Now You Need Me’ and Burton is solely responsible for ‘I Won’t Let You Let Me Down’, the poppiest song in the set. Findlay Napier contributed to ‘While The Whole World Sleeps’ which sounds irresistibly Hebridean and that’s followed by my favourite track, the traditional ‘Loving Hannah’, which is pared back to two voices and two acoustic guitars.
There are a couple of negatives. It’s rare that I turn down the volume on anything but I played All Is Not Forgotten at half throttle otherwise it was far too loud to the point where Megan Henderson’s fiddle was distorting. OK, you can turn it down so you can say that it’s not a real problem. The sequencing is another matter. The penultimate track is the traditional ‘Tranent’ with its tongue-twisting chorus, obviously intended to be humorous and that would be fine if it were followed by something meaty. Instead we have ‘Cholesterol’, the sort of song that is a fine finisher to a club night but shouldn’t be on this album. I’m inclined to say that it shouldn’t ever see the inside of a recording studio but that may be harsh. It’s a matter of context.
Harking back to my review of Mercury, I’ll simply say that Siobhan is on her way back to us.
Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/
‘May Morning Dew’ – live in the studio:
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