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KATHERINE CAMPBELL - Robert Burns: Tune Unknown 

KATHERINE CAMPBELL - Robert Burns: Tune Unknown 
Private Label SCKCBU020CD 

This offering, which was released in time for the annual Burns celebrations, is a difficult one to classify. The publicity suggests it should be filed under “Folk, Traditional”, but it doesn’t quite fit, yet it certainly doesn’t have a more contemporary feel. Katherine has a lovely voice with a vibrato that suits the material, although her singing style is more towards the drawing room end of the folk spectrum.

As an acknowledged expert on Burns’s poems, she’s taken 10 of them that were originally intended to be sung (but with no known extant air) and composed tunes to make them singable, and I’m certain that several of them will be embraced by Burns aficionados and used at their gatherings. In addition, there are some which I think will appeal to a broader folk audience – this may well be due to her own early immersion in the folk world. The tunes have an authentic feel, and all are accompanied on piano/keyboard by Katherine.

It has to be said that there is a certain sameness to the tracks if listened to from beginning to end, but to some extent this is counterbalanced by the quality of the singing. The booklet gives texts of all the tracks; I particularly enjoyed O, Raging Fortune’s Withering Blast and If Ye Gae Up To Yon Hill-Tap, and the glossary and bibliography will please the more scholarly listener.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 128 of The Living Tradition magazine.