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SALT HOUSE - Undersong

SALT HOUSE - Undersong
Make Believe Records MBR7CD

It’s been a five year wait for their second album but well worth it. This is a beautiful album.

There have been changes in the band. Ewan MacPherson and Lauren MacColl remain at the core. Siobhan Miller and Euan Burton have moved on to other projects and have been replaced by Jenny Sturgeon on vocals, harmonium and guitar. What a good move.

All the music and most of the lyrics have been written by the band but there are four new settings of others’ words. Three cover classic folk subjects: Turn Ye To Me is a stolen baby replaced by a changeling ballad, The Sisters’ Revenge is a revenge ballad from Scandinavia, and I Sowed Some Seeds concerns pregnancy and desertion. The other, The Road Not Taken, is a Robert Frost poem set to music by Lauren.

From start to finish the music seems to surround you like a soft mist on a rolling moorland. The standard of playing and the spare but complex instrumental arrangements feel as if they are guiding towards a clearer understanding of the words. From the first track, Old Shoes, through a nod to the first album, Lay Your Dark Low, to the final title track, everything is as it should be.

They give two definitions of the title; 1: the ambient murmuring sound of a landscape; a subtlety of sound which gives a location a sense of place; 2: the accompanying strain of a song, its underlying meaning. So apt.

Iain Campbell

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