REVIEW FROM www.livingtradition.co.uk
ARTISTS Cold Blow These Winter Winds - A Celtic Celebration of
Christmas Green Linnet GLCD 1228
Rory Campbell organized
this benefit concert, which was recorded live at The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
in December 2003. Many of Scotland and northern England's best-known acoustic
musicians collaborated for the project. The theme is Christmas (which
I feel ultimately limits this album's appeal and potential), and I'm left
with a feeling that the two distinct halves of the album don't 'hang together'
easily. The album is far too heavily edited for my liking - applause (which
may well have sounded rapturous to the attendee) sounds strangely (and
disappointingly) muted on the recording - all the 'live' feel is thereby
It starts off well enough, with a lively piano/whistle duet by Dave Milligan
and Rory Campbell. 'Lullay Lullay' is a gentle carol sung by Corrina Hewat
with customary elegance. Karine Polwart & Andy Lang duet on a rousing
version of 'Fairytale of New York' - this one at least is met by enthusiastic
applause! Polwart sings a beautiful song 'Balulalow' with her usual vocal
beauty & fine bass playing from Kevin McGuire. Things pick up with alt-country
singer Dean Owens' 'Blue December' - I feel this song in particular is
sung with genuine feeling - Owens has a wonderfully distinctive voice,
aided here by Marianne Campbell's lovely fiddle playing. Eliza Carthy
sings 'Divas And Lazarus' beautifully, and a cappella. 'Little Drummer
Boy' rounds off the first part of the album nicely.
However, the last part of the album doesn't sit so easily, particularly
the songs 'Lullaby', 'Christ Child's Lullaby', 'Christmas In Prison',
'Blue Christmas' and 'Silent Night'. Things pick up again slightly with
Dean Owens' whimsical 'It's Christmas Time', sung by his daughter Billie.
And yet the instrumentation remains excellent throughout. The jury's still
out with this recording. I'm not sure whether the Christmassy subject
matter will ultimately hold much appeal for the listener.