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JIM & SUSIE MALCOLM - The Berries 

JIM & SUSIE MALCOLM - The Berries 
Beltane Records BELCD113 

Even before it was played, this album rang lots of bells. The Blair berry fields photos sparked remembrances of a 1972 interview with Belle and Alex. Shown similar ones, not only did it bring out stories, but they could name every person in the photos. Belle Stewart’s lovely Berryfields O’ Blair opens an album that is full of delights. Other memories of songs heard at those early TMSA festivals include John Maclean’s March, Guise O’ Tough – well, practically every song could be connected to a weel-kent face.

Every track brings something special - whether it is Susie’s take on that piece of clever observation by Karine Polwart, John C Clark, through to Jim’s really engaging way with the Child ballad Lady Dysie.

Readers here will probably need little introduction to Jim’s illustrious three decades of commitment to traditional song, including his years as the lead singer with the excellent Old Blind Dogs and even longer as a successful solo artist - though it is difficult to think that anything he has recorded before has proved to be as pleasing as this album from the married couple or its predecessor released in 2017.

The same gang of accompanists have been assembled this time – why change the team when they have proved so successful before. Their contributions here are subtle and effective. One puzzle though: no trumpeter is credited in the notes so we must assume that this is synthesised from a keyboard; but is very convincing and appropriate.

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine