Wednesday, 22 February 2017

SIOBHAN MILLER

CD Review

Strata


Second albums can be notoriously tricky to create especially if your debut has been well received, it means you have set a benchmark others expect not only to be matched but exceeded. 

Siobhan Miller
Well Siobhan Miller needn't have worried as Strata contains eleven songs which showcase the soft tones of the Scottish songstress perfectly.
Miller has that gorgeously rich, yet soft tone to her voice very close to the likes of Cara Dillon or Ange Hardy. Her voice comes rolling on the opening track Banks of Newfoundland.
The arrangement has a strong beat created by the percussion skills of Louis Abbott which almost threatens to overpower Miller's voice but her tones cut through the accompaniment like a surgeon's scalpel.
The dancing cadence of the next track What You Do With What You've Got is a life philosophy in one song and although it's got a strong and uplifting message, Miller gets that right balance between keeping it light and getting the point across.
For the cover of Dylan's One Too Many Mornings Miller's voice takes on a more emotional yet slightly raspier tone similar to the gorgeous voice of Kate Rusby.
The strings of Jack Smedley, of Rura fame, under her voice also give the song an emotional boost. Pound A Week Rise is the stuff folk music is made of. The story of mine workers fighting against pit owners to get a decent wage.
Miller's voice and the throbbing beat underneath give it a menace of determination with Transatlantic Sessions regular, Phil Cunningham's subtle accordion playing adding extra colour to proceedings.
Phil Cunningham
If there is one track which exemplifies the sweet and emotional tones of Miller it's her breathy rendition of The Unquiet Grave.
The gentle lament is softly layered over the subtle picking of Kris Drever on guitar and it's the simplicity which gives it such impact.
There is almost a military beat to Thanksgiving Eve and Miller, at least in the first part, seems to be battling to be heard. The bluegrass fiddle inserts from Aidan O'Rourke add a really strong strand of colour to the song.
Miller seems to deepen her accent for her arrangement of The Sun Shines High. the effects used on the production by Euan Burton seems to give her tones a harder edge which puts the percussion side firmly in its place.
Miller's silky tones which bring in The Month of January soon turn to the strong clear voice which seems to always be warning there is power in reserve for her to call on whenever she chooses.
She possesses real depth of tone and yet maintains a great subtlety to be able to dance over the top of the quick, strong beat of the percussion. False False is a ballad where Miller shows both her versatility and her range.
Her arrangement is a beautiful song which falls somewhere between a lullaby and lament. The strings of Megan Henderson, who you may also know from Breabach,  also help to create a real depth of emotion.
The penultimate track, Bonny Light Horseman, sounds incredibly close to Dillon's style of singing, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Both Celtic singers have wonderful voices that are able to stir the spirit. Miller's arrangement of this gentle ballad of losing your loved one through war has just the right tone.
Miller's second solo album
There is a note of sorrow at the loss and yet a sense of pride in that he died a noble death. Miller goes on a lighter tone with another staple of folk music about taking an older lover.
In the Ramblin' Rover there are some great irreverent lines and it's clear from her tone Miller is enjoying herself with lines such as, "You're bent with arthritis, your bowels have got colitis, you've galloping bollockitis and you're thinking it's time you died."
This album draws together many of the influential musicians and songs which have made an impact on Miller.
Her arrangements and the clever input of a string of impressive musicians for this album has given her a grandstand for her impressive talent.
Miller's voice is subtle, sharp, gentle and emotive and you often get the feeling there is a lot more power being kept in reserve. Strata is a real pleasure to listen to and there really isn't a bad track on the album.


Strata is released on February 24 which will also kick off her album tour starting in Edinburgh.

You can catch the launch of the new album at The Queens Hall, Edinburgh. Doors open 7pm and the show starts 8pm. Tickets are £17 plus a £1 fee. She will be joined by special guests from the album including Euan Burton, Kris Drever, Louis Abbott and Megan Henderson.
The following night, February 25 you can see her at The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets range from £10 to £12. On February 26 you can catch her at Hare & Hounds, Birmingham. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £11 including booking fee. The on February 27 she will be performing at Kingskerswell Parish Church, Newton Abbot. Doors open 7pm and tickets are £11 including booking fee.
The following night, February 28, she will be appearing at The Slaughtered Lamb, London. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £13. Then going into the next month on March 2 she plays The Swallow Theatre, Whithorn. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £12. It's off to Catstrand, New Galloway on March 3. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £10. On March 4 she plays Stonehaven Folk Club, The Community Centre, Stonehaven. Show starts 7pm and tickets are £12 for non-members and £10 for members. Please note there is no bar so if you wish to imbibe then you need to take your own drinks.
Following that on March 5 Miller will perform at The Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £8.58 including booking fee.
Then on March 7 she is off to The Hippodrome, Eyemouth. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £14 or £8 for U-16s. The following night March 8 you can catch her at Seall, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Sleat. IV44 8RQ. Show starts 7.30pm and tickets need to be reserved through a booking form and paid for on the night. The on March 9 it's off to Eden Court, Inverness. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £12, £10 with concessions and there is a friends discount too. The next gig is on March 11 where she will perform at The Tolbooth, Stirling. Show starts 8pm and tickets are £14 and £12.
On St Patrick's Day she starts the German leg of her tour and you can see her at Kult, Niederstetten, Germany. Show starts 8pm and see the website for ticket information. Then on March 18 she plays Schlosskelter, Freiberg Am Neckar. Show starts 8pm and tickets are €20 or €15 Euro concessions. On March 19 she will be playing StaatschauspielDresden. Show starts 8pm and tickets are €24.25 or €19.85.
On march 21 you can see her perform at Folk Club Isaar im Landgasthof, Kienberg. Show starts 8pm and tickets are €11 Euro for club members, €13 on the night and €6 concessions. Under-14s are free.
Then on March 22 she is off to Apex, Gottingen. Show starts 8.30pm and tickets are €16.50 or €11 with concessions. The following night, March 23, she plays Hauskonzert, Mullenbach. Show starts 8pm and tickets are €15 or €12 with concessions. Then on March 24 you can see her at Baldauf Villa, Marienberg. Show starts 8pm. To finish the month on March 25 she will play Buchcafé, Bad Hersfeld. Show starts 8pm and tickets range from €12 to €18.