Link to Living Tradition Homepage






LAVEROCK - Up In The Morning 
Private Label 

Laverock is a trio consisting of singers Alex Smith, Joanne O’Donnell and Andy Upton (who also play harmonica, whistle and guitar respectively). Named after the Scots word for “lark” (hence the album’s title – and the irrefutable logic of its cover photo of the summit cairn of Toll Creagach, to attain which doubtless requires a suitably early start!).

The trio’s repertoire consists exclusively of Robert Burns, here a selection of predominantly less familiar verses for which they’ve invented new tunes. But to just say it “does what it says on the (shortbread) tin” would be vastly underselling Laverock’s appeal and achievements. For the trio is clearly much inspired by the texts and through their original settings are able to convey Burns’ insights into issues such as the unfairness of society, shot through (via his use of the “mither tongue”) with his compassion for the simple man and woman. There’s an affectionate gleam in the eye too, on songs where Burns expresses his love of life (and of women).

There’s a lot to like about Laverock’s musical excursions into Burns song territory. The performances are abundantly life-affirming, straight but never straight-laced, full of good honest musicianship that doesn’t need to shout its technique. The singing is robust, characterful and involving, and throughout the disc there’s abundant variety in choice of lead vocals, with each song given to the most apt vocal combination, while harmonies are attractive and well managed. The instrumental work is sprightly and lively, whatever the pace adopted, and the choice of accompanying colours is both reliable and imaginative, including some wonderful bluesy harmonica and bass (along with Alex’s accordion and Andy’s mandolin) – all brilliantly matched.

I might quibble about the fading-out of three tracks, and the disappointingly short playing-time. But truly this is one Burns-based album that richly repays any number of repeated plays, for its accomplishments and delights ensure the songs come up fresh every time.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine