Songs of Separation at The Queen’s Hall examines through music and song separation in its many forms...separation from a loved one, from family, a country, even a language feature in this performance that combines the talents of 10 leading folk musicians from Scotland and England who met (many for the first time) for a week on the island of Eigg to develop and complete this project .
Our musicians Eliza Carthy, Jenny Hill, Hannah James, Karine Polwart, Hannah Read, Kate Young, Hazel Askew, Mary Macmaster, Jenn Butterworth and Rowan Rheingans all bring different skills and backgrounds to this project, but under the leadership of Jenny Hill (who is also the main developer of this project) everything comes together in an interesting evening of new songs and music, old songs and music and old words with new music.
Many of the older traditional songs such as “Unst Boat Song” “Over the Border” (with both its Scottish and English variants explained a little here) and Robert Burns’ Jacobite poem set to music “It Was A For Our Rightful’ King” will be familiar to many in the audience tonight but adaptations from Danish poetry and Bulgarian folk music may be something new for them...all however have a theme of “separation” and somehow it all fits in here.
New songs too such as “Echo Mocks The Corncrake” tie in well with the island and sea traditions of Eigg while “Wings on my Heels” laments the passing of the old dance halls.
A favourite for the night for me though was a song that has its probable roots in the old music halls but is now only found as a Scottish folk song – “London Lights”. This tale of the young girl, unmarried and with a young child cast out by her family and everyone she knows, is just as relevant now as when it was written. In fact, all of the separation themes here are timeless and some are brought into sharper focus with the recent (and current) political issues around us today.
More information on this project and the CD is available from their website at
Review by Tom King