Some music needs space to breathe and pulse. So it is with the wonderful Karine Polwart, whose pure, beautiful vocals are a soaring instrument alone. Accompanied by bare bones piano, Polwart needs little else.
This new album, a collaboration with her friend, pianist Dave Milligan, seals her reputation (as if there could be any doubt) as Scotland’s queen of folk.
These are songs of love as a symbol of resistance, with transience, death and allusions to some horrific moments in history (war, slavery and so on raise their bloody heads in the traditional songs) bringing real heft and context to the tunes.
Highlights include the chilly ballad The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood with its minimal percussion, and the exquisite The Path That Winds Before Us a lullaby, albeit a bittersweet one that serves as a reminder that our futures, now more than ever, are uncertain, and all we can do is carry on together.
There’s a more hopeful message though, carved into the duet, Travel These Ways containing the line which is where the album takes its name from.
Still As Your Sleeping is perfect for the Autumnal weather, and as an effective antidote to the poison of neoliberalism – a contemplative, poignant album which soothes and stirs the soul in equal measure.