Siobhan Miller : All Is Not Forgotten03.04.2020 I Songprint Recordings (distributed by Proper Music)
All Is Not Forgotten is Siobhan Miller's fourth solo release. After its predecessor, Mercury, beguiled with a contemporary sound, The Midlothian-born singer-songwriter has returned to her folk roots to record a set of self-penned and traditional songs with a beatific, meditative tone.
Miller has the form to deliver a sublime album - as three MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 'Singer of the Year' awards plus a 2018 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award should attest - and that is what she has undoubtedly done.
All Is Not Forgotten is built around Miller's captivating, pure vocals, but its strength lies equally between her talent and the instrumental framing offered by some of Scotland's most outstanding folk musicians, including Orcadian singer/guitarist Kris Drever (Lau), fiddler Megan Henderson (Breabach), Innes White (acoustic guitar), Euan Burton (double bass), John Lowrie ( piano) and Kim Carnie (backing vocals).
This ad-hoc group works well together, there is detail, rapport and fluency in the interchanges, although they seldom perform all at once - instead the arrangements have been distilled to their essence to convey a rare intimacy; the resulting music has the wonder and enchantment of lost time alone and unhurried in a museum of ancient artifacts.
The album's mood is often minor-keyed melancholy; the deep sadness of Loving Hannah, the lamenting Selkie and the wintry May Morning Dew are all traditional songs with their doleful spirit fully expressed.
There are lighter, contrasting moments - notably when Tranent skips and canters by and the music-hall humour of Adam McNaughtan's Cholesterol closes the album - but the keystone of All is Not Forgotten is set in place by how profoundly Siobhan Miller can shape the emotion of a sad narrative in a simple phrase. She has a beautiful voice, and she uses it with uncommon skill.
Existing songs form the spine of All Is Not Forgotten; the ensemble's own compositional work also impresses. Now You Need Me (Drever/Burton) is lilting and breezy folk-pop; I Won't Let You Let Me Down (Burton) is an understated, entrancing reverie. The moonlit poetry of While the Whole World Sleeps (Burton/Findlay Napier) is the album's probable high point, run close by the drifting, lyrical flow of memories found in the album’s title track (written by Miller, Drever & Burton).
This is a timely release - there is real solace in these songs. Siobhan Miller has further confirmed the verdict of the various folk award panels that have recognised her music in the past; All Is Not Forgotten is a finely-woven and graceful delight.
SIOBHAN MILLER I All Is Not Forgotten