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JEAN REDPATH "Summer of My Dreams" Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX208

Just when you think you've got this lady sussed out she goes and releases an album that knocks you sideways. Think Jean Redpath and many people think Burns. Or Burns with string quartets. Or Burns with piano. That's until you see her perform live and realise that she can sing anything and put a distinctive label on it. "Summer of My Dreams" was originally recorded in 1995 for Jean's own record label and is - in her own words - "a collection of memories which range from those parts of my repertoire that I inhaled with the damp sea air in Fife as I grew up, through the material that reached me by radio and recordings in early years and on to the more recent acquisitions more deliberately and consciously acquired." Eclectic it most certainly is, with superb accompaniment by Alasdair Fraser on fiddle, Abby Newton on 'cello and Jacqueline Schwab on piano. There are songs you might expect, like "Dumbarton's Drums", "Come By the Hills" and "Yellow on the Broom", plus a couple to raise the eyebrows, especially a tastefully kitsch (Jean's description) version of "Parlez-Moi D'Amour." This track finds Alasdair transformed into Max Jaffa in his Palm Court days and he also contributes an inspired and distinctly Scottish-sounding accompaniment to Enoch Kent's "The Farm Auction" which rounds off the album. Highlights? I'll settle for the title track by David Mallet and "Sailor's Sweetheart", by Canadian poet Duncan Campbell Scott and set to music by Dave Whyte. The voice is as distinctive and spine tingling as ever and it's heartening to know that there are several more unreleased albums to come. Thoroughly recommended.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 43 of The Living Tradition magazine.