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Tamarach Records TAMARAC001

The debut album by singer songwriter and Aberdeen denizen Jenny Sturgeon presents 12 self penned songs (two co-written) - drawing on folklore, history and personal life experience - in contemporary arrangements involving Jonny Hardie (guitars, fiddle), Grant Anderson (basses), Davy Cattanach (percussion), Fraser Fifield (whistles, saxophone), Simon Gall (xylophone, guitar), Brian McAlpine (accordion), Aongus Mac Amhlaigh (cello) and several folk in vocal harmony support.

Her winsomely accented voice is easily pleasing in the many catchy lyric refrains and her richly expressive imagery of nature is equally appealing in songs, astutely arranged with a lighter touch and à point feel, such as Raven, Nowhere Else I’d Rather Be, and solstitially inspired Fair Drawin’ In. Likewise, her styling of more epically oriented folkloric material such as Cùlan, her atmospherically charged littoral variation of The Two Sisters sororicide ballad (inspired by the story telling of Claire Mulholland) on which she uses a shruti-box and Gaelic worded chorus to very good effect, and The Honours (recounting the 17th century smuggling of Scotland’s crown, sceptre and sword by two women) is equally satisfying and successful.

Elsewhere, some elements of the arrangements feel a tad tricksy and/or de trop in their rhythmic detail (the jagged section in Running Free for example) and suitability (notably the Indian Carnatic singing on Selkie and Linton, both otherwise fine pieces, the latter delightfully documenting Hercules Linton’s designing of the tea-clipper Cutty Sark). Sometimes simplicity is the best servant of sophistication as amply evinced, incidentally, in Will T S Miles’ striking avian artwork that graces the album.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.