The fourth studio album from Siobhan Miller, one of the key singer-songwriters to emerge from Scotland in recent times.
Release Date: 3rd April 2020
Label: Songprint Recordings
Formats: CD / DL
2018’s slickly produced Mercury, a collection of all original songs that tickled the mainstream boundaries, was enough to earn Siobhan a nomination in the 2018 Radio 2 Folk Awards. Always a handy ice-breaker of an introduction, it also serves to highlight the contrast with All Is Not Forgotten.
There’s a return to the inclusion of traditional numbers and she’s also replaced the well-produced sheen with a more stripped-back sound. One that to be frank, seems to suit her to a tee. It also creates an atmosphere of intimacy; in fact, one where the best way to listen to the songs is with the volume knob turned right down to induce that feeling of actually straining to listen carefully.
Amongst the backup team are the key figures of husband Euan Burton and Lau’s Kris Drever who offer much more than musical support, bringing in their expertise in production and songwriting. It’s a potent team that proves its worth immediately on the title track. A beautifully crafted, lilting tumble of guitar notes accompany a lyric of remembrance that’s a hard act to follow.
It sets the tone for the album where we’re taken on a journey that’s thoughtful and reflective, each lyric treated with the respect of measured arrangements. The acoustic guitars of Drever and Innes White that accompany the fragile vocal on Loving Hannah have a deftness of touch and are caressed rather than played.
The pick of the traditional songs given a fresh coating are the close to home Tranent that tells of the race to be the first to dance with a new bride and Selkie which we’ll all know as the seductive shapeshifting sea creature. The former is built on a haunting melancholy arrangement while the latter picks up the pace with a sprightly delivery although, for us non-Scots, you might need the lyric book to follow the dialect and the storylines.
In contrast to the general air of calm that flows like a gentle stream through the album, Tranent comes paired with the album closer the tongue-in-cheeky Cholesterol. Possibly the first time I’ve heard that word in a song title or even in a song itself – there’s a game…replace one word in a song title with ‘cholesterol’. It has a music hall vibe – the title sung in a “bless ’em all” heavily exaggerated accent; a lighter note with a different tone.
However, the overall experience of All Is Not Forgotten is a mellow and dreamy ambience. An album of songs that ebb and flow, given the skill and sensitive touch of a group of musicians who prove worthy to the task.
Listen to the title track here: