various artists,
Steele the Show
(Greentrax, 2011)

Marking the 10th anniversary of the death of prolific Scottish singer Davy Steele, this album is a magnificent tribute to the man and an introduction to his work. The performers range from Kate Rusby and Andy M. Stewart to Steele's own son.

With such a diverse range of performers, the sounds are equally wide ranging.

Karine Polwart gives a lovely quiet performance on "Scotland Yet," followed by a rockabilly-sounding "Lost in the Long Grass." Kate Rusby may hail from a lot further south than Steele, but her lovely Yorkshire voice and intonation are used to excellent effect on "Butterfly." Even running to just over six minutes, the song leaves the listener wanting it to go on.

"Chasing Shadows" must show Steele as a folky Nostradamus as a song written more than a decade ago warns us of the folly of financial speculation. Siobhan Miller gives a strong rendition with lovely lines like "they would rather own a forest than touch a single tree." One of the stand-out tracks is the beautiful "Friends," combining wonderful sentiments, gorgeous melody and a strong performance from Kathy Stewart.

"Farewell to the Haven," one of the best-ever songs about the failing of an industry, is expertly performed by the inimitable Ian McCalman. "Heave Ye Ho" continues the maritime theme. As Karine Polwart sings, you can feel yourself pulling on imaginary oars in a sunlit sea off Scotland.

Although it is the penultimate track, "Just One More Chorus" is a lovely song that would be appropriate to end any great album or a wonderfully enjoyable live session in pub, concert hall or family gathering. Poignantly, it is the last song written by Steele.

The maestro himself features on the final track, called "Long Hellos & Short Goodbyes." This is a beautiful and well-deserved anniversary tribute.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

23 April 2011

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