SIOBHAN MILLER – Strata (Songprint Records SPR003CD)

StrataScotland 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.

Fraser Bruce

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Artist’s website: www.siobhanmiller.com

‘Bonny Light Horseman’ – live with her band:

 

Mànran’s Gary Innes announces new solo album and single

Gary Innes

Highland born accordionist and one of the founding members of Scottish award-winning celtic  supergroup,  Mànran, Gary Innes, is about to release his much-anticipated second solo album entitled Era.

Gary released his first solo album How’s The Craic back in 2005 and has since released multiple collaborative albums with Ewan Robertson (of Breabach fame), all-accordion band Box Club and also has three albums with his current band Mànran. However, after 12 years of working on other projects, he is now back with a full album of self-composed tunes and even some self-penned songs, performed by some of the very best musicians and singers in the Scottish music scene.  Having been a professional musician for over 15 years, Innes is no stranger to the world of traditional music and as the newly appointed BBC Radio Scotland presenter for the iconic music show, Take The Floor, Innes is becoming further integrated into the Scottish music scene.

When asked about the album title, Innes said, “I have called the album Era as I feel it’s the end of a substantial chapter, or indeed era in my life. Due to my  increasing musical commitments, I retired from my beloved sport of shinty in 2014 and for the same reason finished up with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service after 15 and a half years, in 2015. Last year saw the beginning of the new era with the birth of my first little niece Zara and now my second niece is on the way. I am also getting married this year so it feels like life is very much starting to move me in a different, very significant, direction and I wanted to not only recognise this but also to celebrate it”.

Era has Hamish Napier on Keys, Duncan Lyall on bass, Jarlath Henderson on Uilleann Pipes, Steve Byrnes on kit and fellow Mànran bandmate, Ewen Henderson on fiddle. Innes co-produced the album with guitar and piping sensation, Ali Hutton who also performed on the album.

The album weaves in and out of melodies and titles that clearly resonate with Innes and his highland home village of Spean Bridge. Era includes three self-penned songs which all carry very different stories, sung by Robert Robertson, Alec Dalglish and Siobhan Miller.

The first single ‘The Caman Man’ will be available to download from January 27th, 2017 and it is a song all about Scotland’s most indigenous sport, Shinty and Innes’ journey from the start to the end of his sporting career which involved him captaining the national team on many occasions and his local club, Fort William to Camanachd Cup success.

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

Gary Innes interview – warning: Gaelic is involved:

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:

SALT HOUSE: Lay Your Dark Low

Salt HouseLabel:   Make Believe Records

Catalogue number:   MBR5CD

Distribution:   Proper Music Distribution & Highlander Distribution

Release Date: 11th November 2013

“Lay Your Dark Low” heralds the arrival of a major new musical force, from Scotland. Acoustic four-piece SALT HOUSE is the meeting of four distinct musical minds, on the Scottish scene, their highly current sound is earthy & deep-rooted, yet eagerly progressive, built from grassroots folk with contemporary influences.

The album is a collection of songs, drawing on the tradition and collective songwriting talents within the band, interwoven with a formidable instrumental section. Check out the video clip below to get a flavour of the album.

Boasting two previous winners of the BBC Radio 2 “Young Folk Award” and a Scottish Jazz Award, SALT HOUSE are:

Siobhan Miller: Vocals & Harmonium.

Ewan MacPherson: Guitar, Vocals, Banjo & Jews Harp.

Lauren MacColl: Viola & Fiddle

Euan Burton: Double Bass

Produced by Salt House and Mattie Foulds.  Made possible by Creative Scotland.

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Artist’s weblink: www.salthousemusic.com