Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller,
Shadows Tall
(Greentrax, 2010)

Here is another excellent exposition of the best in Scottish music and song from a pair of accomplished performers.

Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller open their new album, Shadows Tall, with an epic story song called "Johnnie O Braidisleys," which sets the tone of an album that should grace the shelves of anyone professing an interest in traditional or contemporary folk music. In a canon replete with maids losing out to the outlandish soldier boy, there are lots of tunes and songs to draw from, and Leslie and Miller show a deft hand by performing the wonderful "Trooper & the Maid."

"The King's Shilling" is a beautiful anti-war song that echoes through the history of many lands is aptly performed by this duo. War and soldiers seem to form a conscious or unconscious motif here, with a song of the American Revolutionary War following, "Buttermilk Hill," which the notes remind us is descended from the Irish song "Siul a Ruin."

That other branch of the traditional folk repertoire, the emigration song, is well represented by a dual offering, "Scarborough Settler's Lament/O a' the Airts." By the way, the emigration was to Canada's Scarborough, not Yorkshire's.

We come bang up to date with the beautiful "Who Will Sing Me Lullabies" from the pen of Kate Rusby. Get past the familiar rendition by the writer and you can enjoy a wonderful tune and lyrics born anew by these excellent performers. Another folk legend provides the final song for Leslie and Miller to thrill us with. It is Richard Thompson's "The Great Valerio," and to show the constant evolution of folk music it is married to a tune by Leslie called "Sky High."

This is a beautiful set of songs and tunes expertly performed with feeling and packaged to perfection by Greentrax. You just cannot go wrong.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

5 February 2011

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