Karine Polwart’s new album ‘Traces’ is released on 13th August followed by a launch tour that kicks off at Oran Mor, Glasgow on 19th September running through to November. We gave a first taster of the album back in February with a demo of ‘King of Birds‘ which was inspired by the protests at St Paul’s Cathedral. She dedicated the song to the Occupy London activists, thinkers and hopers.
Karine Polawart talks through ‘Traces’ Track by Track
“Cover Your Eyes” – In July 2012, Donald Trump’s Trump Corporation opens an executive golf development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, just south of the Ythan estuary. It’s been a massive political controversy here in Scotland, destroying forever the unique and dynamic Balmedie Dune System, an erstwhile Site of Special Scientific Interest. Anthony Baxter’s beautiful, witty and enraging feature length documentary You’ve Been Trumped inspired the song (and incorporates it now into its end credits). It tracks the development through the stories of local residents at Menie, including Susan Munro, Michael Forbes and his family, David Milne and Mickey Foote (former producer of The Clash). Despite vilification and harassment, they maintain dignity and fortitude. Though the environment cannot be restored, the weather on this exposed northern coast might nevertheless get its own back (haar, if you’re not from these parts, is sea mist …). Find out more www.youvebeentrumped.com and read our article from April 2011
“King of Birds” – This comes with a big nod of thanks and respect to the Occupy Movement, especially at St Paul’s in London, for ringing a bell that needs ringing. The king of birds in mythology is The Wren, a motif for Sir Christopher. The song tracks the symbolism of St Paul’s cathedral set against the backdrop of The Great Fire of London, The Blitz and The City of today.
“Tears for Lots Wife” – This was adapted from the poem (originally in Russian) by Anna Akhmatova.
“Don’t Worry” – I think this song speaks for itself.
“We’re All Leaving” – Charles Darwin lost his eldest daughter Annie at the age of ten, whilst the two were traveling together in The Malverns. I try to imagine not only the impact of her death upon him as a father, but its resonance for him as a scientist developing the notion of natural selection, and as a thinker questioning the religious mainstream of his times. Thanks to my co-writer Dave Gunning for salvaging the sliver of a duet from which this song emerged and for prodding us into writing by email exchange. Thanks also to both Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton and Shrewsbury Folk Festival for the writing retreats that made this possible. Find out more about The Darwin Song Project (www.darwinsongproject.com)
“Tinsel Show” – The neon lights, chimneys and curious chemical flames of the BP petrochemical plant at Grangemouth on the River Forth dominated the horizon from my childhood home. For all its reeking industry, it looked magical from the brae face above the unassuming Stirlingshire village of Banknock, a magical quality heightened still by thousands of alleged UFO visitations to the so-called Bonnybridge Triangle during the early 1980s. The song’s title is pinched from a line in Robert Burns’ majestic song A Man’s A Man.
“Strange News” – The lyric scribbled itself from a state of disbelief, on hearing of the sudden death of my younger cousin Ewan Polwart (3rd August 1976 – December 25th 2009). I dedicate it to his wife Ruth, his brothers Calum and Neil and to my aunt and uncle Pauline and Graham.
“Sticks N Stones” – Our homes are not mere pieces of real estate. They are alive. And the traces of our lives are etched in them.
“Salter’s Road” – Written in memory and celebration of my wise, mischievous and remarkably well-travelled neighbour Molly Kristensen, who died in 2009, just short of her 90th birthday. Salter’s Road was the old salt smuggling route that ran inland through The Lothians from Prestonpans on the River Forth, and directly past my house (and Molly’s). For her daughter Meg and granddaughters Caroline and Kez.
“Half A Mile” – This is by far the most difficult song I’ve ever written and I’ve wrestled with whether it’s an appropriate subject matter for a song at all. In memory of Susan Maxwell, from Cornhill on Tweed in Northumberland, whose story haunted me as a child (we were born a month apart) and chills me still as a mother. Susan’s life was stolen from her on her first solo trip home from the tennis club across the River Tweed in Coldstream. Dexy’s Midnight Runners were about to reach number 1 with Come on Eileen. In the back of my head whilst writing, I could hear the old Northumbrian Lullaby Felton Lonnen, a song that captures the visceral fear and panic of losing a child. With utmost respect to the Maxwell family.
Wed 19 GLASGOW Oran Mor (0141 357 6225)
Thu 04 NORWICH Arts Centre (01603 660 352)
Fri 05 SALISBURY Arts Centre (01722 321744)
Sat 06 OXFORD Old Fire Station (01865 263 980)
Sun 07 STROUD Subscription Rooms (01453 760 900)
Wed 10 BROMSGROVE Atrix (01527 577 330)
Thu 11 BRIGHTON Komedia (0845 293 8480)
Fri 12 LONDON Union Chapel (08444 771 000)
Sat 13 BRISTOL Colston Hall 2 (0117 922 3686)
Sun 14 NEW BRIGHTON Floral Pavillion (0151 666 0000)
Thu 18 MANCHESTER Band on The Wall (0845 2500 500)
Fri 19 PONTARDAWE Arts Centre (01792 863 722)
Sat 20 SHEFFIELD Cathedral (0114 275 3434)
Sun 21 HITCHIN Folk Club (01462 812 391)
Mon 22 COLCHESTER Arts Centre (01206 500900)
Fri 23 STIRLING Tolbooth (01786 274 000)
Sat 24 ABERDEEN Lemon Tree (01224 337 688)
Sun 25 INVERNESS Eden Court (01463 234 234)
Thu 29 INNERLEITHEN Memorial Hall (08448 440 444)
Fri 30 EDINBURGH Queens Hall (0131 668 2019)
Traces is released via Hegri August 13, 2012. Pre-order it here