Karine Polwart announces a new album

Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart today announces her forthcoming new album Scottish Songbook, due for release on August 2, 2019 through Hegri Music. The follow-up to her acclaimed 2018 album Laws Of Motion – which drew standout reviews, including Mojo Folk Album Of The Year – the new project captures multi-award winning songwriter and musician, theatre maker and published writer Polwart reimagining a clutch of tracks which span over sixty years of Scottish pop. Spawned from Karine’s much-praised 2018 Edinburgh International Festival live show of the same name, Scottish Songbook draws together her interpretations of classic tracks by the likes of John Martyn, Chvrches, Strawberry Switchblade and Biffy Clyro. The album details arrive today alongside the latest single from the album, Polwart’s version of ‘Women Of The World’ by Ivor Cutler. Karine – a six-time winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including 2018 Folk Singer of The Year – will launch the album alongside a performance at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival on August 2, 2019, ahead of a UK headline tour including London’s Barbican on November 27, 2019 (on sale March 15).

Recorded at Chem 19 (where the likes of Franz Ferdinand, King Creosote and Teenage Fanclub have all cut albums), Polwart’s Scottish Songbook features regular band mates Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson, alongside Graeme Smillie (bass and keys), Calum McIntyre (kit and percussion) and Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow (vocals, guitar & percussion). The sextet’s hymnal interpretation of cult Scottish singer Cutler’s ‘Women Of The World’ arrives alongside the first of a series of blogs Karine will be publishing via Medium throughout the month, inspired by trailblazing Scottish women. The first – published today just ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019) – is Polwart’s tribute to Mary Brooksbank. A much-revered political activist and songwriter, Brooksbank is the only woman to have her words inscribed alongside the likes of Robert Burns and Edwin Morgan – on the Writer’s Wall at the Scottish Parliament. Polwart first came across Brooksbank’s legacy in the late nineties when – seeking an outlet from the pressures of her work at Scottish Women’s Aid safeguarding the victims of domestic abuse – she attended an evening class called ‘Women and Folksong’.

Speaking about the interplay between Cutler’s simple, resonant lyrics to ‘Women Of The World’ and Brooksbank’s struggles for women’s rights, Polwart says;

“The social and health care jobs most of us inhabited were precisely those that Mary fought for, at a time when infant mortality in Scotland’s industrial towns and cities was close to 20%, and the NHS and the Welfare State were but a dream. The act of singing in community with others in that draughty old school was physically, emotionally and politically restorative for all of us. For me, it is still. Indeed, it’s why I sing.”

Karine has collaborated with Scottish visual artist Jen Frankwell to create a series of multi-layered artworks to accompany Scottish Songbook. Created using a miscellany of items including postcards, pin badges, statistical data and textile remnants, Frankwell’s thoughtful montages cut to the heart of the issues surrounding community, dignity, purpose, mental health and hope that Polwart’s body of work continues to shine a light on.

You can read Part 1 of Karine’s blog here and Part 2 here.

Pre-order ‘Scottish Songbook’ below.

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‘Women Of The World’:

SIOBHAN MILLER – Mercury (Songprint Recordings SPR002CD)

MercuryTo be brutally honest, if this were Siobhan Miller’s first album and I was listening cold I probably wouldn’t have got past the first three tracks. I loved Strata – it was the perfect blend of new and old, of traditional songs and covers – but Mercury is pop music, well made and sophisticated, true, but pop music nevertheless. All the songs are originals, some written with Euan Burton, Louis Abbott and Kris Drever, performed with a fashionably modern band, embellished with violins and brass.

I’ll temper my criticism a little. The third track, ‘Strandline’ attracted my attention and the fourth, ‘The Western Edge’ is excellent. I hoped, at that point, that Siobhan had turned her back on foolish notions but, sadly, I was disappointed. A major problem is the absence of lyrics: they are not printed on the cover and, although we’re promised them on Siobhan’s website they are nowhere to be found. With everything that is going on around her musically, they are essential. Even the star guests like Eddi Reader and Kris Drever are lost in the wall of sound that Burton, Abbott and Iain Hutchinson generate.

The title track, which opens the album, actually sounds rather interesting on subsequent listenings – I can make out something about picket lines and throwing stones but it’s lost. The second track, ‘Sorrow When The Day Is Done’, is a nicely upbeat song but the combination of Abbott’s drums and John Lowrie’s piano overwhelms it. It’s rather like an episode of Masterchef – I can appreciate the skill and see the ideas going into the dish but there are far too many of them and the finished article is unpalatable.

I am so disappointed with Mercury. Come back to us, Siobhan, please.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.siobhanmiller.com

‘Mercury’ – lyric video:

Siobhan Miller announces her second solo abum

Siobhan MillerSiobhan Miller releases her hotly-anticipated second solo album, Strata, on February 24th, 2017.

Following her well-received 2014 debut, Flight of Time, Strata consists of eleven songs, from a variety of sources, that Miller grew up listening to and performing in her youth. All newly arranged and now recorded by her for the first time, the material reflects on her musical upbringing whilst forging her own path forward. Her vocal performances sit atop the all-star talents of some of Scotland’s finest musicians, including Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke of Lau and Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott.

Strata’s carefully chosen material shows the many influences on Miller’s formative musical years and her personal connection to each of the songs lies at the heart of this album, with the story behind each song equally as important as the song itself. Songs passed down by Scotland’s source and revival singers – such as ‘The Unquiet Grave’ and ‘False, False; – sit alongside titles from contemporary writers that she grew up listening to, including Bob Dylan’s ‘One Too Many Mornings’ and ‘Pound A Week Rise’, penned by Ed Pickford.

It would be true to say that the album, and its selection process, is the culmination and an illustration of Miller’s musical journey to date. Whilst she has long been keen to record these songs, so too does the album fulfil a long held desire to pay tribute to Sheila Stewart, Dick Gaughan, Gordeanna McCulloch, Rod Paterson and her father, Brian Miller, by continuing to share the songs they have passed on to her. The album also features guest appearances from living legend Phil Cunningham, who performs on two tracks – including the much-loved ‘The Ramblin Rover’, written by his former Silly Wizard bandmate, the late great Andy M. Stewart.

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Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

‘The single ‘One Too Many Mornings’ – official video:

Siobhan Miller – single, album and tour dates

Siobhan Miller

As a taster for the forthcoming album Strata, Siobhan Miller’s lovely, new single ‘One Too Many Mornings’ is released today.

As well as Siobhan’s wonderful vocals, the single features Aaron Jones and Kris Drever (guitar), Tom Gibbs (piano), Euan Burton (bass) and Jack Smedley (viola) This interpretation of Bob Dylan’s classic song also features vocals and drums, from Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott.

A two-time winner of Scots Singer of the Year, Siobhan Miller is widely regarded as one of the foremost vocalists in Scotland. Daughter of folk musician Brian Miller and from a musical household her new album Strata sees her looking back to the songs she grew up around and that influenced her musical life. Refreshing these songs and recording them for the first time, she is joined by some of Scotland’s finest musicians including Kris Drever and Aidan O’Rourke, from Lau, and Phil Cunningham.

In support of the forthcoming album, (Due out in February, 2017) Siobhan will be touring the UK during February and March, preceded by a launch date at Celtic Connections.

Artist’s website: https://www.siobhanmiller.com/

Listen to the song:

When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday

When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday

Singer-songwriter Jo Mango has teamed up with an array of songwriters, academic researchers and sustainability organisations to create the When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday project.

The project’s aim is to bring together academic, musical, artistic and practical knowledge to imagine a future in a more sustainable world. They will be releasing three download tracks along with a video documentary to help promote the cause.

Mango collaborated with a number of artists (Adem, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow and Craig Beaton of The Unwinding Hours), researchers (University of the West of Scotland’s Jo Collison Scott, the University of Manchester’s Angela Connelly, the University of Edinburgh’s Matt Brennan and Creative Carbon Scotland’s Gemma Lawrence) as well as organisations Manchester: A Certain Future and Julie’s Bicycle to create a project that would allow art to explore the emotional connections to nature and create a platform for change.

After working together on a research project called Fields Of Green, looking at how the live music industry could reduce its carbon footprint, Jo Mango and a set of Scottish songwriters went on to write a stunning collection of songs (Wrack Lines). This was funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) who then sent out a proposal to put on a festival of events around the country on the theme of Community Futures and Utopias (a Connected Communities Research Festival) that would see different communities using the arts to to explores issues related to their futures.

As a result, Jo Mango then took part in three songwriting sessions – in London, Manchester and Edinburgh – thinking about the future and the challenges that climate change brings. This resulted in three songs: ‘The Ceasing’ (Jo Mango and Louis Abbott), ‘If I Could Choose’ (Adem Ilhan and Jo Mango) and ‘Better Lands’ (Craig Beaton, Louis Abbott and Jo Mango), which were first played at AHRC’s Futures and Utopia Fair in Somerset House, London. Coincidently, this event took place the day after the Brexit result so the atmosphere felt charged and extremely thought provoking.

Climate change is a difficult subject to tackle, which a lot of people find unapproachable or simply choose to ignore it. However, with When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday, Jo and her collaborators hope to break down that barrier and bring the arts together to explore how we can change the future.

 

Heidi Talbot announces new album

Heidi Talbot

Traversing oceans and musical styles – from folk, through Americana, to classic pop, and back again, the Co Kildare singer-songwriter Heidi Talbot has so far gained plaudits from the likes of The Guardian and The Sunday Times (with the latter calling her “simply vocal heaven”) and is joined by a host of musicians and co-writers on this fifth album, including husband John McCusker and Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow).

Here We Go, 1, 2, 3 sees Talbot reflect on birth, death and getting older – from gorgeous country-pop meditation ‘The Year That I Was Born’ (co-written with Louis Abbott), through downtime bluegrass psalm ‘Do You Ever Think Of Me’, to exquisite mortal jig ‘Time To Rest’, written by Adam Holmes.

The album revels in the comforting, and restorative, powers of music: it’s never maudlin or overly dark and the title track is inspired by an old gospel song.

“I loved the idea of it being quite uplifting, of it not being a funeral hymn, even though it’s about death,” Talbot offers.

Trailer video:

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Artist’s website: http://www.heiditalbot.com/