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Vertical Records VERTCD124 

Nicely presented, in a six panel Digifile, this is Karen’s long awaited collection of 11 songs in the English language to follow Urram, her purely Gaelic release from 2015. The album is produced by husband and fellow Capercaillie founder member, Donald Shaw, and with a cornucopia of talented musicians assisting, she delivers in spades.

Karen shows her faith in songwriter James Grant by performing four of his songs. Of the four, his Little Gun is a little gem, telling us that being a parent changes some people fundamentally. The couplet that stopped me short was this little beauty: It’s not the fact that I made you / It’s the fact that you made me. Wow.

Si Kahn’s Aragon Mill jumped out at me. Doubtless, this song about de-industrialisation had an even greater impact after almost a year of lockdowns. Track 3, Donald’s Still Time, features the saxophone of Fraser Fifield: a real star turn. And track 6 also registered strongly. Lassie With The Lint White Locks was the first of two Burns songs, and Karen’s touch is so surefooted that everyone at the Burns Museum in Alloway will nod approvingly. And her classy Ae Fond Kiss, to close the album, needs no introduction to anyone who saw her close the Glasgow Commonwealth Games with it.

Standout track though has to be her rendition of Brendan Graham’s wonderful Orphan Girl. I knew the song, but this is the first time it brought a tear to my eye. And that’s a tribute to her.

Dai Woosnam


This review appeared in Issue 138 of The Living Tradition magazine