various artists,
Scottish Women
(Greentrax, 2004)

Scottish Women is a fantastic live album based on a tour by some of the greatest living exponents of Scottish music. From the opening track, the voices the music and the atmosphere are entrancing. Never have the pipes sounded so haunting or the female voices so touching.

The 16 tracks are a showcase of the new and old songs of a Celtic stronghold that is Scotland. There are songs in English and Gaelic, but the language is never a barrier -- the sense of the song comes over despite lack of translation.

"Reres Hill" is one of my favourites on the CD. It is a story of seduction that actually ends with both parties happy.

Being a Scottish album you must have a track from the pen of Robbie Burns. This time you get one of his lesser-known compositions, "The Slave's Lament." The tune is definitely not from Burns or the Borders but the marriage of ideas works. Sung with just a gentle percussion backing, it gives you a chance to understand the sentiment.

The purity of the female voice lends an extra edge to "Lassie Lie Near Me" as it relies on the wonderful harmony that is not bettered on any other track. The most interesting song title has to be "Strong Women Rule Us All with Their Tears." It could be paraphrased to replace tears with voices on this album.

There are humorous items here too such as "Maids When You're Young," probably more often sung by males for some reason.

This collection of songs expertly sung is a must for your album rack if only to reassure you that quality work is still being produced and performed around the halls and venues, big and small. Knowing that, we can rest assured for the future of good folk music.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 5 February 2005