The Poozies isn’t so much a band as an academy for female musicians. Stars who have passed through its ranks include Patsy Seddon, Kate Rusby, Karen Tweed and Sally Barker, who has how returned to the fold. A constant presence has been harpist Mary Macmaster and the electro-harp is the band’s defining sound. Into The Well is their seventh studio album in a career stretching back over twenty years with the current members recording five times that number of records as soloists or in other partnerships.
The album opens with ‘Percy’s’, a sprightly set of four tunes: one traditional, one Poozie original and two borrowed as is the fashion these days. That’s followed by ‘Southern Cross’, a song by Andrew Peter Griffiths who doesn’t seem to have recorded or written anything else. It’s a song about modern piracy in the southern oceans and I’d venture to suggest that The Poozies did well to find it before Fairport Convention did – I can imagine them giving it the full folk-rock treatment.
Next is a puirt-à-beul called ‘Churinn’ paired with another tune by Mairearad Green. I’m having trouble with this because it sounds like Eildih Shaw and/or Mairearad and Mary are singing “fucking yeah” repeatedly. There are two sets of lyrics associated with this title and, although I’m no Gaelic speaker, I can’t match what they’re singing to either of them. Still, we need something to make us laugh today.
There is one slightly jarring note and that is Sally Barker’s ‘Ghost Girl’. It’s a pop song – a superior one, no doubt and with rather more words than the average top 10 hit – but a pop song nonetheless. It contains a superb instrumental break but one which sounds as though it belongs somewhere else. The song itself is beginning to grow on me but it still feels out of place. The other pop song is ‘Three Chords And The Truth’ but that seems to fit better. Finally I should mention ‘Small Things In The Cupboards’, a poem by Julia Darling with music by Tim Dalling. Some might find it amusing but I think it’s very clever and insightful.
With one ever-decreasing reservation, I declare Into The Well a very fine album and commend The Poozies on more than holding their own in the crowded world of innovative music from Scotland. You might even say that Mary and Patsy helped to start it all off with Delighted With Harps.
Artists’ website: www.poozies.co.uk
OK, so it’s not on this album but it’s a great song. ‘Another Train’: