KARINE POLWART & DAVE MILLIGAN - Still As Your Sleeping
This lockdown project combines the beautiful lyricism and vocal skills of Karine Polwart with the supremely sensitive finesse of pianist and composer Dave Milligan (Bachue, The Unusual Suspects ensemble, String Sisters; participant in myriad other collaborative performances and directed projects) in imaginative arrangements and refined renditions of traditional, composed and original song material.
Craigie Hill and The Parting Glass come from traditional rootstock. Composed cover arrangements include Burns’ Ae Fond Kiss, Kate McGarrigle’s Talk To Me Of Mendocino, Michael Marra’s Heaven’s Hound, Richard Fariña’s environmental lament The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (via Sandy Denny and featuring some ingenious percussive and textural effects from the piano’s interior), and Alasdair Roberts’ eerily ominous The Old Men Of The Shells.
Rich with ruminative philosophical depth, the poetic and poignant song content reflects and echoes emotional anchors in Karine’s perspectives on life and love, past and present, with some customarily mythic and liminal overtones – people, places, nature (its temporal dimension, geophysical presence and metamorphic movement); and, ultimately, the ineluctable certainty of uncertainty (the earth is never still… even rocks melt in the sun: words from the affectingly atmospheric Siccar Point).
Their fusion of “one voice and one piano” achieves an intensely empathetic rapport and exquisite, at times palpable, intimacy in its carefully crafted and profound evocation of the subject matter. The piano work is so very measured, assured, and subtle in its sense of space, yet comes with some arresting nuances and adroit jazz inflections. Best experienced with concentrated absorption, this melodic and mellifluous music is a perfect illustration of the richness of restraint.
Kevin T. Ward
This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine