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MAIRI ORR - Jenny Does Burn

MAIRI ORR - Jenny Does Burn
Private Label MMO002CD

Twelve self-penned compositions constitute this assured and thoughtful debut album from Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Mairi Orr. Rooted in the folk idiom, Mairi draws on more than a decade of performing, to transform her own experiences and her experiences of the country into tales of love, longing and loss. Intimate and poignant, worldly-wise and observant, a wide range of emotion and tempo finds expression.

Two songs – The Piper Of Peanmeanach, and Summer On The Clyde - relate delightful stories of ancestors. However, the highlight in this narrative vein is the pensive and sensitive title track about the last woman (a lady named Janet Horne) burned in Scotland as a witch. It is heartening to hear the folk process at work, in linking historical events to the present time through song.

The album contains a variety of styles, and there are foot-tapping bluegrass songs with nods to old-time jazz – as in I’m Not A Gamblin’ Man. In contrast, Just A Fallow Year is slow and poignant. The song lyrics, original and sometimes unconventional, and often adapting a man’s perspective, are included in a tasteful booklet.

Nico Bruce’s rhythmic bass, Danny Hart’s fiddle and banjo, and Mark Wood’s clawhammer banjo all make attractive contributions. Steven Polwart, Fraser Fifield and Dave Currie are the other musicians providing polished supportive accompaniment. Mattie Faulds is the experienced producer.

Well-crafted and authentic songs sung in a clear voice make up this solid and intriguing contemporary folk album. Diversity and contrast keep the music fresh to hold the listeners’ attention.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.