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Orcadian Recordings ORCCD027 

Nice to hear from Kris’s paw! Ivan has been a major figure for decades as the front man of Wolfstone, in a duo with Duncan Chisholm, and as himself. He’s always ‘mixed it’ – bringing pretty crunchy rock sounds to folk music in Wolfstone and then, on the opposite extreme, making a very ‘straight and affectionate album (Tradition) of folk anthems. Here, he sounds like what you’d expect if Bruce Springsteen came from Orkney and decided to make a country-flavoured album. Ivan’s voice is slightly less ‘creaky’ than Brucey’s in this context, but he has a lovely, world-weary way of singing that draws you into the stories he’s telling.

This is a fairly stripped-down album – just Ivan with a little help from his friends. These are all Ivan’s own songs, apart from a fabulous version of The Snows They Melt The Soonest, which he turns into a gentle shuffle. His own songs are variously comforting (Bring It Back), cynical (The Wall) and beautifully, tenderly sentimental (Soren’s Song).

This is a lovely, relaxed album – it was recorded “in Andy Harrison’s hoose in Kristiansand” and it sounds like there was a lot of smiling going on when it was made.

Alan Murray


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine