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4.6 out of 5 stars
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2012
I should start by saying I am a fan. I have been since I first heard Karine on the BBC folk awards in 2005. Karine isn't just a great folk singer, she is a song writer who stands alongside the best. Her songs are crafted, with lyrics that hit the spot, like only a true wordsmith can.

The album opens with a simple song which has a wave that will rumble the sub woofers in a way that only the Hercules flying over my house can do. The album continues with another nine gems. I can't choose favourites yet, as it only arrived this morning, but, "We're all leaving" and "Tinsel town" hit the spot.

The core of the band is Karine and her brother Steven, a fantastic guitarist with an amazing touch, and the incredibly individual Inge Thomson (see the live show if you get a chance) whos musicianship adds greatly to the sound, and voice harmonises perfectly with Karines. Another eight musicians have been brought in to augment this group and add a bit of spice and variation.

Another piece of magic from Karine Polwart. If you haven't heard Karine Polwart before, buy this album, and when you have there's another four to buy.

p.s. I am not paid by Karine Polwart or Amazon.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2012
It has been some 4 years since her last solo album, with the highly successful diversion with the supergroup the Burns Unit and a DVD stop gap overview Here's Where Tomorrow Starts in the interim. This is a step up, mature carefully considered and constructed songs, produced with a clean more sophisticated production courtesy of Iain Cook. Her pure singing voice with it's distinctive Scottish accent is as good as it's ever been , and the songs range from sharp social commentary to intensely personal sometimes tragic songs.
The opening track , Cover Your Eyes, is having a pop at American tycoon Donald Trump constructing a golf complex on the beautiful unspoilt Ythan Estuary north of Aberdeen which may ultimately be thwarted by the sea haar( coastal fog) which regularly occurs in the vicinity, while King of Birds focusses on the Occupy London Protests that took place in the grounds of St Pauls Cathedral last year .
The songs have lovely arrangements, representing a strong progression from her previous albums, clever and memorable lyrics, more wordly, but still coming across as delightfully simple at times . Often the message or moral of the song is initially a bit oblique, but is enlightened by the sleeve note clarification, and no doubt highlighted in introductions of the songs in live performance.
More personal songs include Strange News which tells the tragic story of hearing of a young cousin's death on Christmas Day, Salters Road is a tribute to a 90 year old neighbour of Karine's who was a real character, and they both live by the same ancient straight old historic country road, while closer Half a Mile tells of the disappearance of Susan Maxwell who was the same age as Karine, when she tragically disappeared on her first walk alone from her home to a tennis club in 1982 in the borders town of Coldstream.
Although the subject matter can be intense and forbidding, the quality supportive musicianship, clever memorable compositions, and excellent production make this a highly satisfying, uplifting and enjoyable album, probably her best yet, well worth the wait, a class act, and another potential contender for album of the year. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2012
I suppose I may have been predisposed to like this album. (1)It arrived, unannounced: a birthday present from my brother. (2) I'm a sucker for good story-telling. It has not only a lyric sheet, but Karine has explained her influences for each song: the death of Darwin's beloved daughter; the loss of landscape to a developer; the reaction to news of the death of relative on Christmas Day. In short, I cared about this collection of intensely personal songs even before I pressed play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2012
I had the rare opportunity to see Karine live at Ludlow Assembly Rooms in April, and she played many of the songs to be included on this, her latest album. The promise was for something special and I'm not's just been so long to wait!
Karine's songs have the capacity to uplift and leave the listener drained in equal measures. You'd think it would be impossible to match such works as "Firethief" from This Earthly Spell or "Can't Weld a Body" from Fairest Floo'er, but she has.
Accompanied as usual by her brother Steven and the multi-instrumentalist Inge Thomson, together with some guest musicians, Karine's new album is surely one of her best, with such milestones as "We're all leaving" which is a heart-rending illustration of the pain felt at losing a loved one, to the other end of the emotional spectrum with "Don't Worry", which tells us to do just that...don't worry!
There are environmental messages here too..."Cover Your Eyes" and "Tinsel Show" illustrate how man's presence has changed the world, and we have the achingly personal and beautiful "Salters Road"...a tribute to Karine's neighbour Molly Kristensen who died in 2009.
When I listen to Karine's work I invariably feel like I'm intruding into the very personal life of a distant friend...someone who has the gift of taking life's experiences and emotions, and recording them to help us all understand that it's OK to feel sad or joyful...that is, after all, what life is about.
I'm already looking forward to the next album.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2012
This is another gorgeous recording by Karine Polwart! No one ever since the great and wonderful Sandy Denny touches me like Karine. You have to buy this one and listen to this wise women from the Borders. Thank you Karine!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
Wow! not usually a fan of this type of music but just heard her on the radio and I am mesmerised by her voice and the stories of each song - can't stop listening to it - the sound of the harmonium in 'Sticks n Stones' is beautifully French - have a listen even if you are skeptical!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Karine Polwart has a gorgeous voice and a clutch of very fine albums behind her.
In 'Traces', however, she seems to have dug deeper and come up with something
quite magical. These ten new songs are simply beautiful. Evocative, emotional,
each with a very clear character and purpose. The rich arrangements have fire
and self-belief; her lyrics imaginative and often deeply touching. A class act!

Opening track 'Cover Your Eyes', with its sublime ebb and flow and uplifting
emotional harmonic swells is one of the loveliest songs I have heard this year.
No less so 'King Of Birds', a sparkling ballad whose warm heart is enhanced
by Ms Polwart's deep understanding of traditional form and texture. The stripped
down simplicity of 'Don't Worry' frames yet another beautiful melody and words
which, with the greatest tenderness, address a soldier's return from the horrors
of war. 'Strange News' displays some fine guitar playing and pulsing flute and
accordion and final track 'Half A Mile' leaves us with no doubt that its author's
craft makes a significant and memorable contribution to contemporary folk.

The album is a real and unimpeachable joy from top to tail.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2013
This must be the best album made in 2012. Her voice is exquisite and the songs very thought provoking and beautifully written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2013
Saw this recommended in The Herald Magazine at the weekend. Karine was in the Battlefield Band for a while with my friend Alan Reid. Her voice is so clear and the songs are beautiful. A wonderful gift and talent to music!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2012
Like 'Baron' I have been following Karine Polwart's career since I first heard her sing at the 2005 Folk Awards. Her voice was instantly arresting, and when I started to buy her albums, I realised she was a first rate songwriter too. I haven't lost any enthusiasm for her since, having attended two of her live performances here in Norwich. She has a very engaging stage presence and an endearing, self-deprecatory, sense of humour.
As far as her output goes, this album may very well be her finest yet, although it's a close call. I honestly think that her qualities as a lyricist are unsurpassed in our time. Although she writes in a predominently folk idiom, this aspect of her work trancends genres. Her poetry has the sublety of the best of Dylan, with the occasional, world-weary, pessimistic sting of the best of Ray Davies. If you will permit me to use a chocolate-box analogy, Karine has the uncanny ability to wrap a disturbing, hard-centred message in an apparently carefree, soft-centred wrapper!
'Traces' is probably her most consistent album in terms of mood, inventiveness of instrumentation and quality of lyrics; although it would not be at all correct to call it a 'concept' album. Take 'We're all leaving' for example...Who else could produce a thought provoking, yet touching song like this on the subject of Charles Darwin?
My advice? Go out and buy 'Traces' immediately! The wait was well worth it.
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