Karine Polwart was, to my ears, one of the few good voices on Ballads of the Book. I’m now listening to her CD Scribbled in Chalk and I have to say I like it very much. Her singing is very clear and unfussy, her diction is impeccable, I love her accent, and she’s a very fine songwriter. This from Follow the Heron:
The back of the winter is broken
And light lingers long by the door
And the seeds of the summer have spoken
In gowans that bloom on the shore
Other highly recommended CDs
Bhundu Boys – The Shed Sessions – bitter-sweet memories of a great group that played a lot in wee howfs in Scotland. These tracks were recorded in Zimbabwe, before the Boys came to Glasgow in 1986, and before the “serial tragedies and chronic misfortunes” as the sleeve notes put it, beset the group.
Ry Cooder – My Name is Buddy – a wonderful invention which reflects and interprets an important but barely known (and widely miscalled) strand of left-wing American politics. I grew up in the 50’s hearing my relations sing The Ballad of Joe Hill, Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? and other classics, so I know where Ry’s coming from here.
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba – Segu Blue – when you hear the best Mali musicians play you know where the roots of the blues really lie. I miss Ali Farka Toure, but there’s a continuing tradition of wonderful musicians in Mali. Incidentally, the ngoni is the West African instrument that, transported so atrociously to America, is probably the ancestor of the banjo.