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White Wings
Review of CD by Alison McMorland and Geordie McIntyre

By Julius Timmerman
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A fine single-minded album of fourteen Scottish ballads sung a cappella or with sparse sensitive accompaniment on fiddle, concertina, whistle, guitar, banjo, jaw harp and mouth organ.

Alison McMorland hails from Renfrewshire and has been singing and recording for many years, having worked closely with traditional singers such as Willie Scott and Lucy Stewart. Geordie MacIntyre is a Glaswegian of Highland and Irish descent who likewise is steeped in ballad singing and poetry, having recorded his first album in 1973 for Topic, and having performed for many years at clubs and festivals far and wide.

There’s a high level of dedication apparent in these recordings that have an effectively simple homespun feel. The picturesque ballads, like The Virginnia Maid, The Shoreheid Boat, Here’s A Health To All True Lovers, John Barleycorn, MacCrimmon’s Lament and Farewell To The Bens not only evoke bold images of the Scottish environment - beautifully bleak vistas, winding roads, bustling ports, roaring seas, tilled fields and homely fires – but also convey the delights and poignant aches of love, labour and travel.

Alison’s daughter Kirsty Potts adds vocals to three tracks, suggesting that this important vocal tradition, presented here with such strength and geniality, is happily being passed on to the next generation.

Lyrics and interesting notes on the origins of the songs, which come from both oral and printed traditions, are provided.

The straightforward presentation belies the depth of this album and it’s well worth giving it a few spins to really soak it up properly.


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White Wings