Jean Redpath,
Will Ye No Come Back
(Greentrax, 2008)

We often think only of Robert Burns when we consider the old songs of Scotland. Jean Redpath reminds us with this beautiful album that Robbie has a rival in Lady Nairne. Will Ye No Come Back features 14 tracks from the pen of that very talented lady presented by the fantastic voice of this other talented lady.

Writing in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Lady Nairne captured the spirit of Scotland of that period. Her songs may not all be as familiar as those of Burns, but they are every bit as important and, more to the point of the listener, they are wonderful to hear. From the opening track, "The Auld House," you will be captivated.

One of the more familiar of Lady Nairne's songs is the title song, which is almost an anthem of the Scots, particularly on parting. Redpath sings with a beautiful sense of longing and rather slower than the more familiar arrangements, making for a much sadder song. The beautifully understated backing will drive this version deep into the hardest heart.

The mood lifts beautifully as she launches into "The Lass o" Gowrie." You will be transported by the song and the tune and easily imagine yourself in a Scottish drawing room of the 19th century as the dancers glide in candlelight. The mood mellows and the sense of old style joy remains with "The Rowan Tree."

This album is a most welcome addition to the library of anyone who enjoys music, but most especially if you have any affection for Scotland and for history. The insert booklet including lyrics and glossary add greatly to the enjoyment of this album.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

21 February 2009

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