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The Living Tradition LTCD1051

McMorland and McIntyre have long experience in the folk revival, individually and together. They have sung with the best of the current crop, and have paid keen attention to the old masters of tradition, treating each group with respect and attention. In return they hold the admiration of all who hear them, audiences and fellow singers alike. They share a huge skill in spinning the varied tales found in the ballads of Scotland, a skill matched by their obvious passion for these 'muckle sangs'.

Alison McMorland possesses a voice of shimmering beauty, capable of conveying the drama of 'Wife of Ushers Well' but equally able to illustrate 'The Wee Toon Clerk's cheeky humour. Geordie McIntyre's austere tone and precise phrasing are just right for the near six-minute 'Tam Lin', his version using Duncan Williamson's tune. I must confess to a blind spot with this ballad, usually losing interest before the shape-changing battle takes place, but Geordie kept me from putting the kettle on and many thanks to him. The same may be said of his 'Daemon Lover', beautifully told.

Further highlights - Alison's chilling and tragic 'Clerk Sanders', with its eerie psaltery accompaniment, and her duet with daughter Kirsty on 'King Orfeo'. Outstanding. One small cavil, and it detracts not one whit from the superb singing, but the notes on 'King Orfeo' quote Bertrand Bronson as saying that this 'whisper' from the middle ages was "as little expected as we should hear the horns of England blowing'. I'm ready to be corrected on this but I thought the original quote said ".the horns of *Elfinland blowing". Lovers of the ballad will drink in this champagne quality album. Those who want to know about these great works of folk art, apply here.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.