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JIM & SUSIE MALCOLM - Spring Will Follow On

JIM & SUSIE MALCOLM - Spring Will Follow On
Beltane Records BELCD112

For his 14th album, favourite Scots troubadour Jim is joined by his wife Susie, who’s often sung backing vocals on Jim’s albums but here takes equal part in this collection of duets – including taking the lead on several songs – and the two singers sound very well together in happy consort throughout. While noting the attractive cover shots of a bluebell-bedecked woodland, there’s also more than a ‘spring in the step’ in the life-affirming performances on this disc – very literally so in the case of Burns’ Craigieburn Wood, while elsewhere appropriate lines like “all around me is beauty, bright birdsong and plenty” ring through the air … and even the wistful Farewell To Stromness comes with an affectionate, animated lilt.

Although a number of the disc’s dozen songs embrace romance and elopement, there’s more than the usual quota of happy endings (False Lover Won Back, Braw Sailin’). There’s humour too (The Lass Of Killiecrankie, and a frisky take on Jack Foley’s ode to whisky, A Bottle O’ The Best). Even so, the album highlights for me are Jim’s own composition, The World’s Room, a song of the Perthshire and Angus travellers set to Jonny Hardie’s beautiful tune, The Buzzard; an infectious, relaxed Hey Donal; and the above-quoted Fiddle And Bow, which imagines master fiddler Niel Gow struggling with bereavement. Instrumental accompaniment is first-rate, with Jim’s mellifluous guitar – and now also trumpet! – augmented with imaginative support playing from Pete Clark, Dave Watt, Marc Duff and Sandy Malcolm. Characterised by its lovingly phrased and deftly accompanied performances, this is a most cherishable CD.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.