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Aileen Carr "Green Yarrow" CDTRAX 173

So here we are, 121 Greentrax CDs further on from the above and "Greenie's" hair may be thinning and his waist thickening, but there ain't nothing wrong with his ears on the strength of this album as he's still picking goodies.

Not as technically flawless as Niamh Parsons perhaps, but a good selection of songs strongly sung with warmth in a full blooded style. Particularly effective on the opening "Mormond Braes" and "The Forfar Sodger" as well as Marra's "When These Shoes Were New", with good accompaniments from a variety of luminaries such as Tony McManus, Iain McInnes and Maureen Jelks. I have a loathing, however of coy, snickery songs such as "The Cuckoo's Nest" and here, there are similar undertones in "The Silken Snood", where the lad in question "pree'd my bonny mou' "(pree'd = to try by tasting). Even the sea captain in "The Banks of Green Yarrow" makes the offer to the heroine to "do for you what a woman can't do any". I fully realise that many such songs were a by product of their time and had to be couched in certain ways to escape the censor, but oor national bard amongst others could also be a lascivious gloating old toad. I far prefer an approach today which avoids all these long winded euphemisms, that also usually drool over the lassie greetin' in regret and comes out and calls shagging just that when appropriate, at the same time avoiding the gratuitousness of usage that tabloids and "laddish" TV are guilty of. (Presumably the men in the songs were such irresistible lovers that the women, in spite of societal penalties being severe, were unable to resist after one look or glance, which lends an extra frisson for the boastful male).

Finally, I don't know who Ian Olson is, but he makes a number of excellent points both about the tradition and about Aileen's place within it, in his part of the CD notes where he refers to her constant researching of "texts, tunes and history, especially from the great ballad volumes of Francis Child and Bernard Bronson" - notes that mirror the CD overall in both their scholarliness and enjoyability.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.