Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Aug. 3rd: Trying to talk over the sound of rushing blood

Karine Polwart- Scribbled In Chalk (2006, Spit & Polish)

I don't know why it's taken me this long to  listen to this album: I bought it years ago, I've seen Karine Polwart live about 3 times for various reasons, I knew I had this somewhere, and every time I thought 'you have to listen to that CD' but..didn't. Now she's come to my attention again as part of the Burns Unit 'folk supergroup' and I finally got off my arse and gave this album a shot.

Polwart was the lead singer of Scots folk band Malinky, and has collaborated with various other folky people- the Battlefield Band, Lau, etc etc.Scribbled In Chalk is her second album, after 2004's Faultlines. She has a lovely, unmistakeably Scottish voice. The words that come to me listening to this are 'accessible folk'. In fact I'm wondering whether I'd categorise this as folk at all- but everyone else seems to be, so I guess I must be the odd one out. To me almost every track here could fit right in on the playlists of modern commercial radio, particularly Radio 2. The album is very much in the 'radio-friendly female singersongwriter' mould, albeit with the occasional bit of piano accordion. If you like Emma Pollock, or King Creosote's major label outings, you'll like this. Intelligent, adult pop-rock, basically. 'Hole In The Heart' and 'Baleerie Baloo'-about a Scots missionary killed at Auchwitz- are particular standouts, but it's all of a pretty high standard. 'Terminal Star' has a really great string arrangement, as does the aforementioned 'Hole...'
I really can't knock this; there are other albums which move me, excite me, make me dance,whatever, more, but Scribbled In Chalk is a really nice listen, especially if you like distinctive voices.

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