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ALBUM REVIEW: Laws of Motion, Karine Polwart, Hudson Records, out on October 19




Karine Polwart's seventh studio album, Laws of Motion, is released on October 19. Photo supplied by Sonic PR. (4699369)
Karine Polwart's seventh studio album, Laws of Motion, is released on October 19. Photo supplied by Sonic PR. (4699369)

Scottish folk musician and playwright Karine Polwart holds nothing back in tackling world issues on her new album Laws of Motion.

Full of warnings about societal collapse, environmental disaster and corporate greed, the six-times winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards has something to get off her chest.

Laws of Motion stretches the boundaries folk tales and simple musical arrangements to breaking point, mixing the sung word with the spoken word on tracks like "I Burn But I Am Not Consumed, Matsuo's Welcome to Muckhart and Cassiopeia".

Speaking to Spalding Today, Karine said: "I sing very traditional songs that have been around for hundreds of years.

Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700457)
Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700457)

"But I don't sing them as historical pieces but because there are stories in them that represent people living now.

"Songs are essentially about connecting with other people and my role as a singer-songwriter is to look back and make connections with human experiences that aren't as different now as they were when the songs were first written.

"I'm interested in words, images, stories and the stories behind the stories, with the melodies, harmonies and sounds being the vehicles for carrying the stories."

Traditionalists will be lulled into a false sense of security by the album's career-defining opening song, Ophelia, which takes Karine into a realm shared by fellow Scottish folk singers like Julie Fowlis, Amy McDonald and Maeve Mackinnon.

But then Karine drops a bombshell with "I Burn But I Am Not Consumed", as clear a reference to the current President of the United States as it is possible to get.

She said: "Sometimes, I'm happy for people to insert themselves into the imagery of the songs because once a song goes out into the world, you have no control over it any more.

Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700447)
Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700447)

"On Cassiopeia, I use a leaflet about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack that was dropped through people's doors during the Cold War era."

There is plenty for folk fans to feats on too as Karine collaborates with Inge Thomson and Stuart Hamilton on songs, such as "Suitcase, Cornerstone, Young Man On A Mountain and The Robin".

She said: "The Scottish folk music landscape is where I make most of my friends as my family is deeply connected with it.

Karine Polwart. Photo by Suzanne Heffron. (4700459)
Karine Polwart. Photo by Suzanne Heffron. (4700459)

"I've felt at home in folk music for at least 20 to 25 years and it's a scene where I wanted to meet people and to be moved by their music.

"Folk music has a higher profile in Scotland than in many other places and it's brilliant that so many musicians from so many different backgrounds feel there's a place for them here.

"I feel lucky to live in a part of the work where I'm inspired by stuff that's round me.

"But when you sing about a place that you know, it doesn't cut other people off from thinking about the place where they live."

Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700441)
Karine Polwart. Photo by Sandy Butler. (4700441)

Review and interview by Winston Brown



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