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Lyngham House Publishing ISBN: 9781903963432 

Geordie is no stranger to readers of this magazine. His passionate lifetime involvement in song, ballad and poetry is reflected in his singing, songwriting and song-collecting, all of the above strands fuelled by life experience and a deep-rooted love of the outdoors. He’s performed his extensive repertoire far and wide, and has recorded four treasurable albums with his wife, Alison McMorland.

An earlier collection of Geordie’s own original songs, Inveroran, was published in 2005, but although Ravens Reel includes the 1987 song of that name, a good number of the songs in this latest 90-page collection date from the past dozen years. The new collection’s handy A5-size ring-bound format presents 40 songs whose composition dates span an even larger number of years (from 1966 opus The Weekend Song and a pair of 1979 Scottish radio commissions through to 2018’s Arctic Stars). Geordie’s songs of love, land and nature are shot through with his keen response to environmental issues; many also perceptively and unsentimentally celebrate the lives of individual inspirational figures such as John Muir, Mary Slessor, Jim Brown and Hudson Bay Man John Rae, while Tír Nan Óg pays heartfelt homage to Helen Fullerton, another key inspiration.

Ravens Reel, a product of the Mike O’Connor imprint, is a most attractive proposition; each song fits neatly onto a double-page (simple stave notation facing the lyric), and appropriate glossary and song notes are also provided. However, only a quarter of the songs have recordings available, on Geordie and Alison’s CDs, so I would’ve welcomed a companion audio CD – but that’s no criticism of the desirability of this handsomely produced songbook, the contents of which will considerably enrich the song tradition of this land.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.