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JIM MALCOLM - Tam o'Shanter and Other Tales

Tam o'Shanter and Other Tales
Beltane Records BELCD104

Jim Malcolm, the current singer of Old Blind Dogs, has released a new collection of original, solo work that shows exactly why he won the 2004 Scots Trad. Music Award for 'Songwriter of the Year'. The eight tracks each tell a story, some more epic in scale than others. His mellow voice brings emotion to the lyrics that are obviously very dear to his heart.

Beginning with two original compositions relating tales of his own life, including "Blindness of My Youth," celebrating the beauty of his native Perthshire that he hadn't noticed when he was young, Malcolm sets an atmospheric scene. He then brings forth the piece de resistance of the album: a fifteen-minute rendition of Robert Burns' "Tam O'Shanter." Moving from rambunctious to frantic to epic, the song captures the lyricism of Burns' original poem. This track is destines to become a classic that will be copied and covered, but never done as well as it is here. It is worth the price of the CD alone. However, this poem-song is nowhere near the end of the album. A beautifully tragic song about Lord Nelson, a tribute to the pioneering folk singers, so many of whom have passed away, a tale of a thwarted rebellion and an instrumental guitar track all receive Malcolm's individual stamp. His songwriting is rivalled only by his singing.

I enjoyed this album immensely and can't think of anything that could be improved. His arrangements, singing, writing and liner notes are all carefully done and contain neither too much nor too little. This is an album that should be added to the collection of everyone seriously interested in contemporary Scottish music. A wonderful recording.

Jean Price

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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.