Review for 'Orkney Today' by Carolyn Allan

A varied collection of Folky songs

What a refreshing CD this is. It’s a varied collection of folky songs both ancient and modern sung by Jo Philby. Jo’s voice is natural, unpretentious and very easy to listen to.

The opening track begins gently with a simple guitar intro. I immediately felt my shoulders relax even before Jo began to sing “Follow the Heron” by Karine Polwart. There’s a lovely unobtrusive harmony on flute with this one. In “A Day Like Today” by Emily Smith I was taken by surprise by some very exciting chord sequences on guitar and again that lovely flute.

Not sure if it was the song that suited Jo’s voice or Jo’s voice that suited the song but a good choice furtiver.

I loved the arrangement

Jo’s diction is so good, every word can be heard when she sings three songs unaccompanied on the album, “Summer at my Feet” by Ger Wolfe, “Do You Love an Apple?”(Traditional) and “Orcadian Dream” by Sara Daniels, a friend of Jo’s. This one has a dreamlike quality and is followed by a beautiful waltz with a Scandinavian feel, a lovely fiddle intro and delicate, syncopated guitar rhythm. I loved the arrangement.

The traditional song “Down the Moor” fairly nips along at a foot tapping pace. It must be tricky fitting all those words in but it doesn’t seem to phase Jo. There’s a sizable backing band on this one and great fiddle tunes by Fiona Driver. I was nearly dancing in the sitting room!

Slow and soft this time is “Old Man Time” by Karine Polwart. What a lovely melody and again that simple guitar doesn’t detract from the words of the song.

A beautifully played clarsach provides the smooth, rocking accompaniment for the traditional song “The Constant Lover” and fiddle and guitar effectively harmonise with Jo’s voice in “Under the Moon” by Jenny Crook and Henry Sears.

The words of the traditional song “Blackbirds and Thrushes” made me smile. It’s the age old activity of boys chasing girls! It’s upbeat with great accompaniment and an impressive transition from song to following tune “Wee Johnny”.

The song “River” by Bill Staines, in waltz time, has a real country feel to it with driving guitar accompaniment and some great fiddle, sometimes delicate and sometimes staccato.

“I Courted a Sailor” by Kate Rusby is another foot-tapper with some percussion driving it along and a fabulous jazzy bit of flute in the middle.

And finally “My Donald” by Owen Hand is an atmospheric whaling song, almost unaccompanied; the keyboard in the background was so clever.

All in all a very enjoyable CD

All in all a very enjoyable CD and if you’re a singer you will want to nick some of these songs!