Jim Reid,
Yont the Tay
(Greentrax, 2005)

As the title implies, Jim Reid is dyed-in-the-wool Scot, and some of the lyrics may need subtitles. But even if you cannot follow each word, you will live these songs that are sung from the heart.

One of the most beautiful songs on Yont the Tay is "Up the Noran Water." Seldom has a song about the child of an unmarried girl been so sensitively written and sung. A favourite of mine has to be "The Sodgers' Cairn/Battle of the Somme." Reid has a warm voice that is designed to sing songs of loss and there is not an event more suited to such sentiment than this look at that terrible battle. The song was written by Mary Symon with Reid in mind, and it works.

As if to contradict me, Reid then moves on to a much lighter song and makes a jewel of it. "Tommy Curtiss" is yet another song of the "knight of the road" so beloved of folk singers and it will lift the spirits. It is a poem set to music. Another excellent track here is "The Tinker's Wedding" -- for some reason it is referred to in the notes and track listing as the "tinklers" wedding.

Perhaps the most familiar song on offer is the marvelous "The Freedom Come All Ye." Reid takes this well-known song and as usual makes it his own. It is a new song when sung with the sweet mellow voice rather than the more familiar raucous rendition from voices like Luke Kelly.

Once again, Greentrax have done a great service to the Scottish traditional canon in producing this set of 15 top-class tracks from a man with a voice so well suited to his heritage.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 14 May 2005