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IONA FYFE - Away From My Window

IONA FYFE - Away From My Window
Cairnie Records IF18AWAY

Iona’s been making significant waves in Scotland’s North East – and well beyond it – in recent years, immersing herself in the ballad and bothy tradition that remains so strong and distinctive in her home area, so this debut album’s not before time.

I know I’m getting old when the notes refer to songs from singers I knew as “archive material”, but she’s chosen well, and her crystal clear voice treats the songs sympathetically, and her voice never sounds strained while effortlessly giving the ballads a fresh twist. At the same time, her time spent with, and listening to, traditional singers has not been wasted, and her singing style is natural and instinctive. This is underlined by the musical accompaniment, provided by a galaxy of first rate musicians; never intrusive or overpowering, just doing the job it should. There are a couple of tracks prefaced by snippets from Stanley Robertson and Lizzie Higgins, accentuating the connection she feels with her roots.

This not to say that her repertoire’s limited; it’s certainly not. She’s just as much at home with more contemporary material like Michael Marra’s Take Me Out Drinking, and the self-penned Banks Of The Tigris is outstanding, both as a song and in terms of its performance.

This is an exceptional CD from an exceptional singer that just grows on you with each hearing. She’s obviously being picked up by the festival circuit, but don’t wait for that to happen, this CD is recommended listening with almost no reservations except for two requests: can we please have more than 10 tracks on the next recording? And can we please not have to wait too long for it?

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.