various artists,
Scots Women
(Greentrax, 2001)

Once upon a time, the greatest of Scottish female singers gathered for a concert at Celtic Connections 2001. The good fairy of great music was looking on and inspired the powers that be to record the event. If that same fairy waves her wand over you, you will inspired to seek out this double CD and by listening you can sink into a warm and wonderful celebration of Scottish joy.

Opening with full band and chorus we hear "The Sands o' the Shore," which makes us believe we are there in the concert hall. "The Good Looking Widow" has the feel of the communal sing-song about it with a lovely rhythm and amusing lyrics.

To prove that not all is rosy in the garden we hear the chilling tale of "Fair Rosie Ann." This tale of incest has a version with 67 verses -- not all of them are sung here. Maureen Jelks gives a powerful unaccompanied rendition. Stravaig offers a beautiful version of "Ye Banks and Braes," a song that can only say Scotland. There is lovely fiddle break in this track.

The second CD opens with "The Sodger Laddie," again with the full company joining in on chorus. The story is familiar to many folk songs and this is a great version. "Whaur Dae Ye Lie?" is a title that looks like an ancient Scottish song or a work of Burns. That is the beauty of this song; it is a new song written and sung by Karine Polwart. She dedicates it to the women of Srebrenica, Bosnia and the massacred of 1995.

Modern and traditional are combined on "The Fisherman's Wife/The Arran Boat." The former is from the prolific pen of Ewan McColl and the latter is traditional. You may think you know the song "Annachie Gordon," but listen to this version and enjoy a totally new song.

"Alison Cross" is a ballad about witchcraft and we get a beautiful sound in the vocals of Elsbeth Cowie. Sheila Stewart brings us a song with roots in Ireland in "Mickey's Warning." It sounds like a comic song but with its undertones of wife-battering it shows the power of folk music to tell a tale and give a message without preaching.

With 24 tracks this is a fantastic showcase of the power of women singing and more than that the power of Scots women singing. There are old songs and new songs and versions of older songs that make them new songs. What better value could you want? After all if a Scots album is not good value what is?

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 12 April 2003

Buy it from