Karine Polwart * * * *
at the Glee Club, Birmingham
Review by Charlie Melvin
Little Lenny Polwart, just two years-old, will need to get used to the ribbing that’ll become his lot as he grows older. You see, his Aunty Karine penned a song in his honour when he was but a tiny bump in his mother’s tummy – and gave it a girl’s name.
At the time, it wasn’t known whether Kerry, Scottish folk star Karine Polwart’s younger sister, was expecting a boy or a girl, so she titled it Daisy, with the warning that "there are people in this world who don’t think like you do."
Now Daisy, included on Polwart’s latest album Scribbled In Chalk, is nominated for Best Original Song in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, while the songwriter herself is nominated for Folk Singer of the Year, alongside Tim van Eyken, Julie Fowlis and Seth Lakeman.
The 35 year-old former Glasgow philosophy teacher, who picked up three prizes at 2005’s Folk Awards, was backed by her regular band – brother Steven Polwart on acoustic and electric guitars, Kevin McGuire, double bass and Karine’s drummer-husband, Mattie Foulds, from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada – with accordionist Maireread Green deputising for Inge Thomson who gave birth to a boy, Ewen Thomas, in September.
This writer doesn’t count himself among Polwart’s detractors who snipe at the over-serious nature of her songs dealing with subjects such as HIV Aids, child abuse and sex-trafficking, but between faultless readings of Daisy, Maybe There's A Road, Waterlily, The Sun’s Comin’ Over The Hill, I'm Gonna Do It All and the rest, she has the perfect antidote – a cheery nature that will melt the heart of the most miserable critic.
There may be darkness in some of her songs, but they're beautifully observed and confidently performed. The ex-Malinky vocalist has finally emerged as a major force on the contemporary folk scene and it should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following her progress over the past few years.