Siobhan Miller is a remarkable singer.
When she was 13 years old Siobhan (from Penicuik, near Edinburgh) made her singing debut at the Auchtermuchty Festival. She won both the children’s and women’s competitions. Siobhan Miller never arrives anywhere quietly.
Before graduating from the RSAMD with a 1st Class Honours BA, she won the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in a duo with Orcadian musician Jeana Leslie. The pair claimed more shiny statues the following year.
Recently Siobhan’s soulful and stirring renewal of traditional song has seen her voted Scots Singer of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards, not once but twice.
After two albums in partnership with Jeana (2008’s In A Bleeze and 2010’s Shadows Tall) Siobhan joined Salt House, a group with the finely matched abilities of Lauren MacColl, Ewan MacPherson and Euan Burton. Their album Lay Your Dark Low was released in 2014 (The Guardian called it “seamless”.)
But those who’ve witnessed Siobhan Miller stilling and silencing everywhere from a sold-out Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to the bar session afterwards have waited impatiently to hear that voice take centre stage on a solo album.
Flight Of Time is that album. And it takes Siobhan’s talents far beyond anything we might’ve anticipated.
Made over a period of two years, in collaboration with reputed singer-songwriter James Grant, Flight Of Time may seem far from the trad ballads Siobhan is famed for. But these 10 contemporary songs are, for her, as compelling as any ancient tale.
“I’m not turning my back on traditional music,” she explains. “For me, folk songs have the same purpose as the songs I’ve recorded on this album. It’s the storytelling element of both that I love. What that song means to you is what matters.”
Although not a consciously chosen theme, each song explores the passing of time. If I Had Known was inspired by Siobhan’s late grandmother and the importance of appreciating those we love. Drowning Out The Sorrows studies our wish to be blind to life’s difficulties. While No Butterflies reflects ideas Siobhan found in poems and artwork made by children held in the Terezin Concentration Camp.
Alongside her own compositions are several found in James Grant’s personal song stash (including Breaking The Law originally written for and about Johnny Cash), a musical setting of the Edwin Muir poem Scotland’s Winter, and two songs written by Miller family friends: Dave Goulder’s The January Man and the much-missed Davy Steele’s Long Hellos And Short Goodbyes. Siobhan’s tender performance of the latter at the 2010 Celtic Connections Scottish Songbook show was the spark that began this album.
Accompanying Siobhan are producer James Grant on guitars and vocals, Ewen Vernal on double bass, James Mackintosh on percussion, the ubiquitous Donald Shaw on piano, Rhodes & harmonium, Emily Smith and Kirsteen Miller on backing vocals, and her Salt House bandmates on viola, guitars and bass. Highlighting the scope and ambition of this album, three songs feature the cinematic sweep of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with spectacular arrangements by Pete Whitfield.
But at the heart of it all is the remarkable voice of Siobhan Miller.
Will McCarthy Music Promotions
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