CD Review by Jane Bower
If you, like me, love authentic, traditional folk music, then Fiona Ross’ newly released CD ‘Sunwise Turn’ is a must.
It’s her third CD and follows ‘The Thistle May Bloom’ with the Fiona Ross Band (2015) and ‘Clyde’s Water’ with Tony McManus (2017).
Ross, who was born in Scotland but now lives in Melbourne, is arguably Australia’s foremost exponent of Scottish singing and is well known on the festival circuit and beyond for her clear, stirring vocals and repertoire of historical Scottish songs.
Fiona Ross is joined on all but one of the tracks of ‘Sunwise Turn’ by ARIA Award winning guitarist, Shane O’Mara.
The album sounds like a live performance and O’ Mara’s acoustic accompaniment is accomplished and subtle, always complementing the lyrics and never usurping Ross’ vocals.
Of the dozen tracks on Sunwise Turn more than half are traditional and three of these are Child Ballads.
There are three songs by Robert Burns and three by named songwriters.
Favourite tracks of mine are;
The more upbeat Cam Ye o’er France, a satire aimed at George 1 and his entourage arriving in Britain in 1714 to take on the thrown.
The only unaccompanied song, Mill O Tifty’s Annie; a Child Ballad based on the true story of seventeenth century, star crossed lovers Annie Smith and Andrew Lammie.
Another Child Ballad, The Wife of Usher’s Well; a disquieting story of a grieving mother who wills her three dead sons to visit her again for one night.
And Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne; an ode to lasting friendship to be played at New Year or any other time for that matter.
Every song on Sunwise Turn is steeped in history, and the themes are often dark and disturbing, but the richness and passion of Fiona’s delivery and the evocative, masterly guitar technique of Shane O’Mara leave the listener uplifted.
‘Sunwise Turn’ would make a great addition to the CD collection of lovers of traditional folk music.
It would also make an excellent introductory album for those wanting to broaden their understanding of Scottish folk song.
Thankfully, the lyrics are included with the CD which helps those of us who sometimes need a little support understanding the Scot’s dialect!