Link to Living Tradition Homepage





EWAN MCLENNAN - The Last Bird To Sing

EWAN MCLENNAN - The Last Bird To Sing
Fellside Recordings  FECD250

Ewan McLennan is an amazing guitarist but his voice is his best asset. It has that deep, smoky, timbre that is perfectly suited to the songs on this album. 

There’s a beautifully, melancholic rendition of the Lichtbob’s Lassie and a rousing version of McGinn’s Rolling Hills Of The Border which Ewan claims to have learned via the oral tradition round the campfire at Knockengorroch Festival. Most of the tracks are just voice and guitar but this one has Karine Polwart on harmony vocals and John McCusker on fiddle. Martin Simpson, who has greatly influenced his guitar work, plays slide guitar on Jamie Rayburn.

This would be a great album and worthy of inclusion in any collection but by including three of his own songs he’s taken it to a much higher level.  Joe Glenton is the hard-hitting story of the former British soldier, turned conscientious objector and anti-war activist, who was jailed for refusing to complete his tour of Afghanistan. Whistling Esperanza lays bare the naked exploitation of Chilean miners trapped in the San Jose mine but also highlights the solidarity of the community.  The title track, The Last Bird To Sing is a poignant ballad on changing work patterns, lengthy spells of unemployment and ultimate hopelessness as seen through the eyes of an old man.

There are also a couple of tune sets where he can show of his virtuosity on the guitar. Three of the tunes are traditional. The fourth, Reeling And Staggering, is his own composition.

Hugh Taylor

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 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.