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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What A Lovely Bloom!!, 13 Dec 2007
By 
Mr. M. P. Duffy (Littlehampton, West Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
I always thought Karine would go places - ever since hearing her singing as part of Malinky I was struck by her ability not only to sing but to convey the emotion of the song in such a way that you feel you are woven into the tapestry of events within the piece, and that's a rare talent. The stand out piece for me from her time with Malinky was Marriane, which exhuded defiance in the face of betrayal, and on this album for me it's Dowie Dens of Yarrow, which has long been one of my favourite ballads, and Mirk Mirk Is This Midnight Hour.

The sripped down tone of the album is in great contrast to her other solo work, and shows another side to this singer. Interpreting traditional music and making it seem relevant to a modern audience is a great challenge, one achieved by very few (Sandy Denny & June Tabor being two of my other favourites, albeit for very different reasons). Karine also seems to shine in the spaces left by the intentionally simple & sparse, yet inspired, musical arrangement that frames the songs, allowing the listener to concentrate upon the stories told & to be drawn into the events & experiences evoked within the song.

There is real talent here, and I am left eagerly awaiting not only the next album of her own music (especially after the delights of Scribbled In Chalk - Terminal Star was a stunning piece of lyrical genius), but also hoping that perhaps in the years to come we might see her again take up the challenge of interpreting songs from our rich heritage of traditional song.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over produced?? Maybe not then, 14 April 2008
By 
Noel Mckee "Big Noely" (Whitehead) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
I bought this on the back of her album Scribbled in Chalk and I have to say that after the first listen I was wondering what I'd bought but I persevered and now this is up there with the best. I even have my two very young sons singing the Dowie Dens in the car and around the house. I explained that one to them but drew the line at Queen Jane. Such a sumptuous beauty in the girls voice and a real achievement to convey the stories held within old poems and the dialect that goes with them. Each day a new track sticks out and I find myself grieving with the mother of the three sons with the grass at their head and the clay at their feet one day and the next my sympathies are with King Henry and as for the girls brother in the Dowie Dens well I just want to sort him out.

Will Ye Go To Flanders? sticks with me at the moment. Strong youthful Scotsmen heading off for an adventure and then wiped out in to the sound of the bloody cannon. Haunting stuff.

Recommend this?? Yes I do but if you choose to buy this then I suggest you give it time to grow on you. Listen to the stories told and you will undoubtedly be captivated by Karines melodious unique vocals.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply gorgeous., 30 Dec 2007
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This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
If it's big arrangements, with a big band sound, plenty of harmonies and a driving drum beat in the background, then this is simply not for you.
In her third solo album, Karine gets right back to her roots, singing some wonderful arrangements of classic Scottish poetry.
Simple but powerful arrangements permit you to focus on what must be one of the finest voices found on the folk scene at the moment.
Two tracks deserve special attention. The Death of Queen Jane tells the story of Henry VIII's sad but botched attempt at undertaking a cesarean section. If you find yourself puzzling over the nature of the accompanying instrument :- border pipes? Hurdey gurdey? ....I'll put you out of your misery. It's actually a Shruti box:- one of those small hand pumped organ thingies normally found in Hindu or Sikh temples.
The bonus track, "Can't weld a body" takes us back to that sad time in history where the Iron Lady proved that she was indeed 'not for turning' way down in the South Atlantic.
This is finest single malt music.
Pour yourself a shot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, 4 Mar 2008
By 
Suzie Macpherson (Glasgow/Inverness, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
Karine Polwart, in my mind, has without doubt the most beautiful singing voice i have ever heard. Her 2 solo albums are simply stunning, and this is no exception. She sings the songs with such emotion that I find tears rolling down my cheeks. Especially the tragid tale in Dowie Dens of Yarrow and The Death Of Queen Jane. She is someone Scotland should be proud of.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another stunning album, 9 Feb 2008
By 
Lady Guinevere (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
I only recently discovered Karine Polwart, I can't even remember how (possibly through lastfm), but I was hooked the minute I heard the album Faultlines and intend on buying everything she's ever done! This particular offering had me spellbound. It is mostly a series of fresh and evocative arrangements of traditional songs, none of which I was familiar with, but Karine really manages to clearly communicate the emotions behind the songs, and the whole recording is haunting. "The Death of Queen Jane", as an earlier reviewer said, is a brilliant interpretation, very sobering, but the track I cannot shake at the moment is "Will Ye go to Flanders". If you like Scottish music and want to listen to someone whose voice is pure and beautiful, and who knows how to arrange a piece in a sublime fashion, I'd definitely give this a shot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fairest Floo'er of CDs!, 4 May 2008
By 
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
I came across the CD by chance as I'd never heard of Karine Polwart, but decided to give it a try after listening to a brief extract of Mirk, Mirk is This Midnight Hour. I am so pleased I took the risk - it is absolutely astounding. I have always liked Dowie Dens of Yarrow since I heard Bert Jansch's version, but Karine's is so beautifully sung with such a hauntingly sparse accompaniment it has me in tears every time I listen to it. A wonderful CD!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful new interpretations, 25 Jan 2008
By 
James Aitken (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
I'm not really a fan of old ballads but bought this album on the strength of Karine's other (original) work, which I really enjoy. I'm really glad I did. Clearly a lot of care and thought has gone into crafting modern, fresh, arrangements of these old songs, all of which were unfamiliar to me from before. Despite being a pretty diverse bunch of songs all of these new arrangements are totally successful and really convey the emotion and story behind them to the modern ear.

What is particularly striking is the pared back style of the accompanying music which really allows Karine's expressive voice to flourish. All of the tracks on the album have something going for them but there are three that particularly stand out for me, the first "the Dowie Dens of Yarrow", "the Learig" and "the Death of Queen Jane". The Dowie Dens tells a typical ballad-type story of young lovers tragically separated by a meddling family, but the arrangement is so well put together and Karine's singing and expression so varied that I think this is probably my favourite track. The Learig stands out because it sounds to me so fresh (apart from the old Scots of course) it could have been written yesterday. The Death of Queen Jane actually tells a pretty gruesome and sad story but is sung in a style so pure and innocent that I didn't realise what the song was really about until I'd heard it a few times.

An exquisite and unusual addition to any CD collection - I can strongly reccommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars catch her live, 16 April 2011
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
Plenty of interesting and helpful comments in the other reviews, and she is earning the sort of plaudits now which are her due, so I want just to urge you see her live.

I like the reviewer who describes some of KP's songs as "the most awful cheese" and then says he is not criticising the artist...! I saw her live last night, with a small band comprising her brother Steve, and Inge Thompson, and I did not detect a single whiff of cheese, in a set of numbers nearly all written by her. I'd say that it was the best gig of its type that I can remember, and I've seen a few, being twice her age and a bit. It's just as well I'm in the wrong age bracket, or I'd have to propose marriage to her, and that would probably irritate my wife. Because KP is absolutely captivating live, with a lovely warm personality and excellent projection, and the performances of all three were faultless, beautifuly arranged and delivered. KP was new to me. In an age when many pleasant but only moderately-talented singer-songwriters can pick up a guitar, make a CD and go on tour, when they might actually do better to sing other people's songs most of the time, she is the real thing; a uniquely-talented singer-songwriter with her own vision and a fine balance in her view of our world and its problems. This CD pares her back to the traditional bone, as it were, and shows in a different way what a superb performer she is. So - catch her live if you can!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cut above other KP albums, 30 July 2010
This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
Karine Polwart mostly writes her own material, and I find the majority of it maddeningly inconsistent: it veers from being breathtakingly beautiful to the most awful cheese in the space of one track to the next. I make this point not particularly to criticise the artist but to encourage others who might feel the same about her other albums to pause and check this one out.

Because this, mostly, isn't self-penned material but traditional Scottish songs and KP renders them in such a stunning manner that it virtually floored me when I first heard them. Stripped down accompaniment to a single instrument on most tracks (usually, but not always, a guitar) puts the emphasis squarely on the vocals. And that's where they ought to be: the singer has a considerable talent for wringing every drop of emotion out of her lyrics that can be heard on her other material. The trouble in the past was that the lyrics were sometimes cheap and tawdry - here, in this carefully selected line-up of traditional songs - they never are and they carry a raw power that's difficult to believe without hearing.

Having said all that it's worth noting that the one self-penned track on the album, "Can't Weld a Body" is actually one of the best. It's joined by "Dowie Dens of Yarrow", "Wife of Ushers Well", "Will ye go tae Flanders" and "The Death of Queen Jane". That's more than 50% of the running time made up of outstanding tracks. The rest are merely excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scottish Folk Songs at their best, 2 May 2014
By 
penny davies "the song" (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fairest Floo'er (Audio CD)
Karine's voice is pure, clear and beautifully Scottish. These traditional songs are the better for her wonderful treatment. A must for the folk fan.
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