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Ed Miller - The Edinburgh Rambler
ED MILLER - "The Edinburgh Rambler" - Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX164

And didn't he ramble. Ed Miller is Edinburgh-raised and Texas-based and could be making albums reflecting the country music which surrounds him daily in Austin. Thankfully, he chooses to steer clear of the cowboys for the songs of his calf country.

His self-imposed exile may have pushed his name down the list of our best-known performers but this album is proof positive of his considerable ability in interpreting songs. His warm, rich voice is heard at its best on traditional ones such as The Rigs o' Rye, Scots Wha Hae and The Shearin's No' for You, while the Modern Traditionalists (or Traditional Modernists) are well represented through songs by Brian McNeill, Alan Reid, Jim Reid and Ian Davison.

But there's an interesting development on this album which might cause songwriters a few sleepless nights. Traditional songs have always been fair game for revision and few people would quibble at bringing events of hundreds of years ago up to date, or of localising placenames. But has Ed gone too far in this instance?

He's taken two modern songs and changed the words. Ewan MacColl's Manchester Rambler is transposed to the hills of Scotland and gives us the title track here while Tommy Sands' Home Away From Home becomes a totally different song, apart from the chorus, as Ed sets down the story of his own life. Perhaps it's just the ongoing tradition in action. I'm undecided, but at least he's credited them.

This small point aside, it's a fine, fine album, helped considerably by guitarist Rich Brotherton, from Augusta, Georgia but of Irish-American stock, and fiddler John Taylor, originally from Buckie but now in California.

Miller classes himself as very much a product of the Scottish Folk Revival of the 1960s and entreats listeners to pour themselves a dram, sit back and enjoy - and join in the chorus, but this is much more than just a singalong album.

Do the aforementioned things by all means, but pay heed to an artist who knows what he does well and can deliver the goods. Recommended.

Alan McIntosh Brown

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This album was reviewed in Issue 26 of The Living Tradition magazine.