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Karine Polwart


Country of origin:

Scotland

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk (one album of traditional songs)

Status:

Most recent release, Threshold (compilation, 2013); most recent release of all-new material, Traces (2012)

See also:

Karine Polwart's site

Wikipedia's entry for Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart's Facebook page

The Ectophiles' Guide's entry for Malinky, the band she used to play with; she also currently sings with The Burns Unit

Comparisons:

A stronger-flavoured Mary Black, Maire Brennan, other contemporary folk singer/songwriters

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Karine Polwart has a terrific voice. She also writes lovely contemporary folk/singer-songwriter songs. The only flaw is that she's no longer singing the traditional material she did in the band Malinky where I grew to love her. Anyone who is fond of mainstream contemporary folk will almost certainly love this solo work: strong tunes, a gorgeous, expressive voice, excellent musicianship. (sophiagurley@hotmail.com)

Comments about live performance:

I saw Karine Polwart last night at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London (lovely venue, by the way), and she was honestly quite surprised by the number of people who turned out to see her. (It was a pretty full house.) I think she's still surprised that people like her, they really like her.
     And there's a reason for it. She's great live. I like her albums, but she's even better live—there's something about her—she's fresh and earnes—that's caught better live than in the studio.
     Anyway, it was a great night. (4/9/08, Silme@ix.netcom.com)

Recommended first album:

The consensus online seems to be Faultlines is the place to start but I think I actually prefer Scribbled in Chalk. (sophiagurley@hotmail.com)

Recordings:


Faultlines

Release info:

2005—Neon Records—NEONCD005

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk fans

Group members:

Karine Polwart—vocals, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Mattie Foulds—drums, percussion
Corrina Hewart—electroharp, harmony vocals
Kevin McGuire—double bass
Steve Polwart—nylon, acoustic, and electric guitars, banjo
Phil Bancroft—tenor sax
Doug Duncan—trumpet
Paul Harrison—hammond
Aidan O'Rourke—fiddle
Dean Owens—harmony vocal
Emily Smith—harmony vocal
Julian Sutton—melodeon

Produced by:

Rab Noakes

Comments:

A strong collection of contemporary folk/pop music with Karine Powart's powerful, lovely vocals. My favourite tracks here are the lively "Only One Way" and "Resolution Road", and the story song, "Azalea Flower". (sophiagurley@hotmail.com)

Scribbled in Chalk

Release info:

2006—Shoeshine Records/Hegri Music—SPIT028

Availability:

Wide in U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk fans

Group members:

Karine Polwart—vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

The Karine Polwart Band:
     Mattie Foulds—drums, percussion
     Kevin McGuire—double bass, vocals
     Steven Polwart—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
     Inge Thomson—piano accordion, melodica, triangle, vocals
Martin Green—Hammond, loops station, Moog, Wurlitzer
Corrina Hewat—acoustic harp, electro harp, vocals
David Milligan—piano
Kerry Polwart—glockenpiel, vocals
Strings by Mr. McFall's Chamber:
     Greg Lawson—violin
     Robert McFall—violin
     Brian Schiele—viola
     Su—a Lee—cello

Produced by:

Mattie Foulds

Comments:

Wow, Karine Polwart's voice just gets better and better. Some of this is a little too country-tinged for me, but I love tracks like the first, "Hole in the Heart", which is just so gorgeous. "Where The Smoke Blows" has a funky sound, and "Holy Moses" has particularly interesting, clever lyrics. "Baleerie Baloo" is a hauntingly beautiful song about a Scottish woman in Hungary who was transported to Auschwitz for crimes that included crying while sewing Stars of David on children's clothing. I'm also particularly taken by "Terminal Star". Intelligent lyrics, such a terrific voice, and so highly recommended for folk fans. (sophiagurley@hotmail.com)

Fairest Floo'er

Release info:

2007—Hegri Music—HEGRICD03

Availability:

Wide in U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of traditional folk

Group members:

Karine Polwart—vocals, acoustic guitar, shruti box, percussion

Guest artists:

Steven Polwart—acoustic guitar, banjo, ebow
Kin Edgar—piano

Produced by:

Mattie Foulds and Karine Polwart

Comments:

I'm not a fan of the kind of contemporary folk Karine Polwart usually does in her solo career, but I loved her work with Malinky, so I took a chance on this one. I'm really glad I did, as I love this album. It's a gorgeous collection of traditional songs. The production is simple, so the focus is on Karine Polwart's powerfully evocative voice—it will break your heart with these ballads. Lovely, lovely stuff. (Neile)

Karine takes a step back from her own material putting together an album of classics...if you dig susan mckeown, check out karine... "The Death of Queen Jane" is amazing... (gordodo@optonline.net)


This Earthly Spell

Release info:

2008—Hegri Music—HEGRICD04

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Karine Polwart—vocals, acoustic guitar, tenor guitar, shruti box

Guest artists:

Mattie Foulds—drums, percussion
Kevin McGuire—double bass, electric bass, vocals
Steven Polwart—acoustic & electric guitars, banjo, vocals
Inge Thomson—accordion, bass melodica, kalimba, loop station, vocals

Produced by:

Mattie Foulds, Calum Malcolm

Comments:

The new one of original material is good as well. I'd been disappointed by her second solo CD (just not as good as the first one, which was amazing and won a number of well-earned BBC Folk awards), but I think she's returning to form. (Silme@ix.netcom.com)

A beautiful album, fiercer than Scribbled in Chalk, which I love as well. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Traces

Release info:

2012—W2 Music—W2BCD9902

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Karine Polwart—acoustic & tenor guitar, Indian harmonium, shruti-box, percussion, vocals

Guest artists:

Steven Polwart—acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
Inge Thomson—piano accordion, glockenspiel, percussion, sansula, vocals
Iain Cook—piano, keyboards, percussion
Steven Cowling—horn
Leila Dunn—clarinet
Mattie Foulds—percussion
Sarah Hayes—flute
Tom Poulson—trumpet
Iain Sandilands—marimba, snare, vibraphone
Alex Trotter—trumpet

Produced by:

Iain Cook

Comments:

I'm growing so fond of Karine Polwart, and this beautiful album is another reason why. The music is gentle but can also be intense, and the songs bring the stories of different people and their worlds to life. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

DVD, Here's Where Tomorrow Starts (2011).

Compilation work includes:

  • "Whaur Dae Ye Lie" with Elspeth Cowie and "Hallowe'En" with Sheena Wellington on Scots Women: Live from Celtic Connections (2001)
  • "Follow the Heron" on The Rough Guide to Scottish Folk (2002) and on Live in Hope: The Wildlife Album 2 (2006)
  • "Holy Moses" on The Acoustic Affair: Twelve of the Best, Volume One (2006)
  • vocals on four tracks on the live album Cold Blow These Winter Winds: A Celtic Celebration of Christmas (2006)
  • "Hobo" and "You Can't Weld a Body" on The Songs of the Radio Ballads (2007)
  • "The Good Years" with Edwin Morgan on Ballads of the Book (2007)
  • "Well for ZoŽ" with Tim O'Brien on Wells for Zoé: Water for Life (2008)
  • vocals on eight tracks on the Darwin Song Project (2009)
  • "Scotland Yet" and "Heave Ya Ho" on Steele the Show: Songs From the Heart of Scotland (2011)
  • "The Sun's Comin' Over the Hill" on Cool as Folk (2011)
  • "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan: A Folk Tribute (2011)
  • "What Are You Waiting For" on The Rough Guide to Celtic Women (2012)
  • "All These Things I'll Do" on Songs from Inspire! (2013)
  • "Sorrowlessfield" on The Flooers of the Forest (2013)
  • "Lord Yester" with Lau on The Flooers of the Forest (2013)
  • "Tinsel Show" on the third edition of The Rough Guide to Scottish Music (2014)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-06-13 21:11:10.
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