Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available
SHEENA WELLINGTON Hamely Fare Greentrax Recordings Ltd cdtrax240

OK - let's do the obvious bit first. Yes, this has a picture of both Sheena and the Scottish parliament on the front. Yes, Sheena's "A Man's a Man" is as moving as it was when you heard it first in this context and yes, they did at least get that bit right. It could have been an opera singer or a tartan-clad singing-shortbread-tin. It wasn't - it was a master (mistress?) of real Scottish song on top form. Yippee!

What of the rest? This is an interesting collection, including what are almost tourist standards such as "Ae Fond Kiss" and "Ye Banks and Braes" (the songs that music teachers ruined for most of us and had to be re- invented!). It also includes much stronger meat in a chilling "Bonnie Susie Cleland" and Karine Polwart's bleakly evocative lament for Srebrenica, "Whaur dae Ye Lie?". As you'd expect, all are delivered with either sparse and effective, or no accompaniment from Pete Clark, Ewen Sutherland and occasionally Neil Paterson's whistle. Sheena's style is as usual unaffected, clear and straightforward. She gets to the grim heart of "Susie Cleland" but I can almost see her smile as she sings with that crystal-clear diction of hers, of a "brazen faced hoor" in "The Fair Flower O Northumberland"!

It would be nice to think that the packaging of this CD, along with its partly-well-known contents, would entice those who might otherwise plump for tartan codswallop or (perhaps worse) Celtic twilit whooshing, to get their teeth into some real Scots songs. To steal and twist a line from Adam McNaughtan's "Thomas Muir" (also on this CD) ... "These are songs that every Scottish man and woman ought to know". They'd do the tourists a lot of good too and I've never heard them sung better.

Alan Murray

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.