During her sole performance at the Edinburgh International Festival, Siobhan Miller’s voice is nothing short of exquisite as she guides an enraptured audience through the people, places, and politics which have inspired both her and the talented songwriters she regularly collaborates with.
Listening to just one artist for a little under 90 minutes can be a bit ‘samey’. Artists often, for the understandable reason that they tend to perform just one genre, can struggle to bring dynamism and diversity to their sets. That is not something that Miller can be accused of. Her faultless voice lends itself to tunes about loved ones, Celtic mythology, miners, weddings, gratitude, and even ‘jeely pieces’ in a varied and at times tear-jerking, other times lively, hour and a half.
Resonating alongside her velvety smooth vocals is a real sense of glee and joy at being back in front of a live audience. Miller is clearly proud of her folk traditions and has great respect for her fellow musicians: John Lowrie on piano; Innes White on guitar; Euan Burton on double bass, and Charlie Stewart on violin. Each take their moment in the spotlight and are a wonderful accompaniment to the accomplished singer.
So in tune with her audience is Miller that she is even able to rouse a comic sing-a-long of Adam McNaughton’s Cholesterol. McNaughton is best known for the aforementioned Jeely Piece song and Cholesterol is of much the same ilk – completely ridiculous but wonderfully humorous. There is something so bizarre about sitting in the grand surroundings of the Old College Quad listening to one of the foremost folk singers in Scotland sing about the desire for full-fat over semi-skimmed milk – yet somehow it is perfect.
Caught up in the musical magic, the audience clap, stamp, and sing out – almost as if at a ‘normal’ live gig. They demand an encore and are not disappointed when Penicuik-born Miller comes back onstage with her band to perform The Rambling Rover, arguably her best known tune.
For anyone who missed this flawless evening of music, good news: Miller will be going on tour around the UK in September.