THE QUIGGS – Wings Of Gold (Lowland LOWLAND021)

Wings Of GoldThe third album from the Scottish/Danish husband and wife partnership of Pernille and former McCalmans member Stephen Quigg, Wings Of Gold combines a heady mix of traditional contemporary covers and five of Pernille’s own songs. One such is the strumalong title track which, veined with nature imagery of the sun going down, opens the album, Ian McCalman adding piano as she sings lead, the waltzing melody vaguely reminiscent of ‘Lavender Blue’.

Accompanied on banjo, Stephen steps up for the first of five covers, Phil Ochs’ ‘When I’m Gone’, continuing to sing lead on Alan Reid’s very Scottish folk flavoured ‘Carradale’, the simple fingerpicked account of a leisurely walking journey from Glasgow to the titular village on the Mull Of Kintyre, taking in the sights along the way. Elswhere, bodhran drives along their duet on Si Kahn’s reminder of our ability to rise about what we see as our limitations ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’, Stephen singing ‘Silver And Gold’, Bryn Philips’ lament about the mine closures based on the ultimately upbeat true story of a former miner John Gates unexpectedly turning his hand to another skill, that of dressmaking.

On a traditional note, the first comes with the unaccompanied brief duet, ‘The Goose And The Common’, an anonymous nursery rhyme from the 1700s with a lyric about the inequity of justice in the enclosures of the time wherein those who steal the goose go the gallows, while those to steal the common go unpunished. Equally of unknown authorship, ‘Dandelion Wine’, Pernille singing lead on a swayalong song about growing older and reminisicing, remembering those first days of spring in the middle of December. Two Scottish traditional numbers are to be found with their pair airlily duetting on ‘The Shearing’s Not For You’, originating in their home county of Ayrshire, and Stephen taking on lead duties (despite being sung from the perspective of a shepherdess, banished from her home when she becomes pregnant) to a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment for the wistful 17th century Scottish Borders pining of ‘The Broom Of The Cowdenknowes’.

Of the remaining material by Pernille, two, ‘Tollundmanden’ (an account of the mummified body found in a Danish bog in 1950 as it recounts its own story) and ‘Syvmilestovler’, a gently swaying summer song, are both in her native Danish, while ‘She Loved It All’ is another nimble waltztime song, this inspired by a series of black and white the photographs by Angelo Merendino documenting his wife’s battle with breast cancer. The album officially ends with the last of the covers, the duo duetting appropriately enough in the Celtic steeped colours of the fingerpicked ‘Journey’s End’, a song of farewell by Judith Goodenough perhaps best know via Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy. However, after the parting glass, there comes a refill with the addition of a bonus live in Edinburgh recording that twins Pernille’s gentle ‘Lullaby’ with Malvina Reynold’s poignant reflection on how quickly our children grow, ‘Turn Around’. A gentle, unassuming and quietly lovely affair, its wings of gold will carry you aloft.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.thequiggs.com

‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’ – live:


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