The Handless Maiden: an art project by Nomi McLeod
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Tunes for a Monday Morning

I've chosen the music of Scottish singer/songwriter Karine Polwart this week, simply because her albums have been in heavy rotation in my studio lately. I love her blend of original and traditional tunes, the political and social concerns she brings to her work, and the way that even her most contemporary songs contain the old rhythms of folk poetry. 

Above: "Cover Your Eyes," a beautiful and heart-breaking piece performed by Polwart and her band at the Shrewbury Folk Festival in 2012. The song comes from her fifth album, Traces, and she explains its genesis in the video above.

Below: a performance of "Sorry," a song she wrote for her fourth album, An Earthly Spell. Polwart is accompanied here by her usual touring partners: Steven Polwart (her brother) and Inge Thomson, as well as Signy Jakobsdottir on percussion. The video is taken from her DVD, Here's Where Tomorrow Starts, filmed on the Scottish Borders in 2011.

Karine Polwart

Above: "The Fire Thief," written for the BBC Radio Ballads project in 2006 and performed on Scottish television in 2010. Though steeped in the language of old folk balladry and changeling tales, it's a song about the AIDs virus -- a haunting melding of past and present.

Below: an impromptu performance of her lovely song "River's Run" (which appeared in a previous post in 2013. It brought back sweet memories to revisit it this morning.) Polwart is accompanied by Steve and Inge once again, filmed in Surrey in 2009.

The River Teign, Devon

One last piece:

The Cairn String Quartet, from Glasgow, perform their version of Polwart's "Tears For Lot's Wife," in 2013.  The song comes from her fifth album, Traces, and you can hear the original here.

If you'd like a little more music this morning, try Polwart's "The Tongue That Cannot Lie" (a song that always reminds me of the fate of Thomas the Rhymer); and her rendition of The Wife of Usher's Well, a ghostly Child Ballad from the Scottish Borders. The latter piece is on Polwart's third album, Fairest Floo'er, consisting primarily of traditional songs and ballads, and absolutely splendid.

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