Various - From a Garden of Songs – Songs from the Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson

Various - From a Garden of Songs – Songs from the Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson

Modestine Music / Whistleberry Music WH005

I wouldn’t like to speculate as to how the concept of this CD came about – but I’m mightily glad that whoever came up with it was given the go-ahead. The poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, for so long neglected, is brought to life with gusto here, by the addition of Scottish musicians of note. This could have gone so, so pear shaped, in the way that most folk ‘concept’ albums go (wishy washy ideas, half baked themes, fill in tracks, participants of dodgy provenance – we’ve all bought them [and still delight in the occasional gems that may sparkle amid the mire]). This one differs in that the source material is so vibrant, and is handled with customary reverence. Davie Scott positively beams his way through The Land of Counterpane, Christine Kydd is an absolute delight on Escape at Bedtime. Robin Laing reassigns some of his best tunes to stupendous effect and provides rock steady guitar backing throughout. The CD even includes a song for which RLS contributed both lyrics and tune to (Aberlady Links) – handled with due care by Norman Chalmers and Heather Young (and given a suitably appropriate reprise by Wendy Weatherby and Chambers).

I let my son listen to the songs and he loved them all – as with his prose work, RLS had an inexplicable connection with young people.

If I had to chose an outstanding moment it is Christine Kydd’s handling of Escape at Bedtime – but as far as I’m concerned it’s all good!

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.