TRACES

by Karine Polwart

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1.
I was Farrah Fawcett, you were Steve McQueen And we rode your silver Grifter Half the way from Aberdeen And the waves fall How they fall I kept lookout in the marram grass U-boats on the skyline Commandos at the pass And the waves fall How they fall The tide still ebbs and flows where the Ythan meets the ocean And not even God himself ould can stop the northerlies from blowing You can tear these dunes asunder Pound this wonder into dust with your cruel hands and crooked hearts laden with lust and expensive lies But the haar will stumble in to cover your eyes The haar will stumble in You said “Michael blew the clouds away” And sure a scarlet shard of sunset scores the granite grey And the waves fall How they fall And the tide still ebbs and flows …
2.
KING OF BIRDS At Ludgate Hill on the cracked and blackened cobbles of the town the ashes fall to rest As the tiny King of Birds he flutters down to build a citadel to light glory in the dark and from hell to breath hope in every heart At Ludgate Hill through the siren screams the heavens burn again the city holds its breath as the tiny little king in slumber bed arises from the dust to light glory in the dark and through the frost to breathe hope in every heart At Ludgate Hill where the towers of smoke and mirrors bruise the sky the pilgrims huddle in as the tiny King of Birds begins to cry the people start to sing to light glory in the dark to ring the bell and to breathe hope in every heart
3.
TEARS FOR LOTS WIFE A righteous light is carrying a just man over the black hill and a restless voice is harrying you It’s not too late You can turn again (don’t look back, don’t look back) You can look back still (don’t look back, don’t look back) You can turn, turn, turn again from the brow of the black hill (don’t look back) To the crimson towers of the city you were born in To the square where you sang To the spinning shed where you spun your thread To the tall and empty windows of your home where sons and daughters blessed your bed One glance and a searing sting of pain Stitched up her eyes before she made a sound and the salt suffused her body and her legs were rooted to the ground Who’s gonna mourn? One woman in a storm? Who will lament the life She left to burn
4.
Don't Worry 03:42
DON’T WORRY Don’t worry worrying won’t pay the bills I would trade in the view from this mountainside for some tiny little molehills When the soldier comes back with the weight of the world in his little knapsack He’s gonna need a hand to hold to ease out the thorns from the heart of his soul and roll away the stone Don’t worry worrying won’t make it all stop I would trade in the swell of the ocean for one tiny little rain drop When the soldier comes back with the weight of the world in his little knapsack He’s gonna need a hand to hold to ease out the thorns from the heart of his soul and roll away the stone I will roll away the stone I will roll away the stone And set you free
5.
WE’RE ALL LEAVING There is thunder on the skyline And it tears her breath away Like the twilight steals the day A father’s kind hand could not command her To return to him once more Like a soldier from the war We’re all leaving Even the ones who stay behind We’re all leaving in our own time Each night surrenders to a morning And beneath the April skies He can hear an endless cry On smiling fields there's a battle raging And for every bloom he knows Another flower never grows And he has no Ark to bear him from this flood Just a broken vessel wrought in flesh and blood And though the riptides pull him under He will not cease to wonder At the beauty The beauty The beauty The beauty He takes her mother to the church door And while she prays for what will come He walks those woods alone And there he builds his own cathedrals And on every whirring wing He can hear the whole world sing
6.
Tinsel Show 03:35
TINSEL SHOW In the East the fires are burning Spires of stone and steel Smoke stack engine turning Wheel upon wheel From a window, such a wonder Galaxies have come to land She sees stars and spells and spangles Sparklers in her hand And the eyes of ages watch our tinsel show While hireling wages steal our dreams from our souls In the East the fires are burning Spires of steel and stone Smoke stack engine turning Wheel upon wheel From her window, such a wonder Flying saucers on the shore She sees disco lights and diamonds Bold Orion’s sword And the eyes of ages watch our tinsel show While hireling wages steal our dreams from our souls Minarets of industry and spinnerets of alchemy Belfry towers for bells to ring in Colonnades of chemistry and cavalcades of conjury Choir stalls for hearts to sing in In the East the fires are burning
7.
Strange News 05:08
STRANGE NEWS Strange news is at this table Strange news and stranger still In boots and a bobble hat I hap you up from the morning chill One brother makes another call One brother lets it ring And at the head of the path you laugh as a lone blackbird begins to sing And a mother does just what she must And a father comes undone In the not yet snow we wave and shout ‘hello!’ to a morning sun Strange news arrives unbidden Strange news and stranger still Strange news is at this table Strange news and stranger still There are plastic strings of gold and ice-cold beer on the windowsill Somewhere a boy is asking ‘when?’ Somewhere a woman ‘why?’ And in the field out back we wait for the crack of wings in a winter sky And a mother does just what she must… There’s a blood red mark upon my door (You passed us over, passed us over) Strange news is at this table Strange news and stranger still There's glitter on the dirt road, and a light slung low on Soutra hill One brother makes another call One brother lets it ring And at the head of the path you laugh as a lone blackbird begins to sing And a mother does just what she must …
8.
I’m bruised by the early morning, I hear the whole house breathing Footsteps in empty hallways fall to the sound of leaving Inch marks on doorframes And thumbprints on window frames Ghosts of hereafter Kitchen walls pock marked With shadows of blue tack And riddled with laughter Scars where the bed stood And names scored on old wood And dreams in the rafters Secrets in timbers And tears spilled on red bills And hopes in the plasterboard Out in the world of numbers One door doesn’t count at all It’s just sticks n stones (and our dreams in the rafters) It’s just sticks n stones our hopes in the plasterboard) It’s just sticks n stones (and our dreams in the rafters) It’s just sticks n stones our hopes in the plasterboard) It’s just sticks n stones (and our dreams in the rafters) It’s just sticks n stones And our stories
9.
Salters Road 03:41
SALTER’S ROAD She was waiting for a boy In her corduroy britches Driving on a Clydesdale like her father once had done From Mutton Hole to Preston Hall through all the dells and ditches And an avenue of burly beech that reach towards the sun For miles and miles and miles she’d roam Down Salter’s Road to Fala Dam and all the way home For miles and miles and miles she’d roam She was waiting for a boy In his trews of navy cotton Something she had half-forgotten is as clear as water now The horseman’s only daughter takes the Friday boat to Bergen And the waves swell like a barley field that’s ready to lay down For miles and miles and miles she’d roam Down Salter’s Road to Fala Dam and all the way home For miles and miles and miles she’d roam Down the spine of the St Lawrence To Kirkwall’s stony shore The old north wind gathers her into his arms once more She was waiting for a boy He came skipping down to greet her Through the starch and bleach and buttons he was singing out her name The evening clouds are huddled in so close that you could catch them Granite sheen upon the river and the shimmering of rain For miles and miles and miles she’d roam Down Salter’s Road to Fala Dam and all the way home For miles and miles and miles she’d roam Down Whippielaw and Windy Mains and all the way home All the way home …
10.
Half A Mile 05:31
HALF A MILE Half a mile to go All dressed in yellow Swinging your racquet like Navratilova Over the five-arch bridge Along the verge of the main road Half a mile to go You were high on being alone You were high on being old enough to walk home For the first time (Half a mile to go) For the first time (Half a mile to go For the first time) (Half a mile to go Did you make it past the oak and the boortree To where the wheat stalks the copse on the hill? Did you spy big barn where the road bends round? And were the finches charming you? And were you singing? Were you singing “Poor Old Johnny Ray”? You were high … How we raked through the hedges and ditches The blistering hogweed and the ragged bulrushes How we raked through the hedges and ditches The blistering hogweed and the ragged bulrushes How we raked through the hedges and ditches But it was no good You were high … And the trucks still roll by (Tweed runs to the ocean)

about

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Beautiful, poignant, evocative 5th solo album from one of Scotland's most celebrated and loved singer-songwriters.
Produced by Iain Cook (one half of Glasgow band The Unwinding Hours, and an experienced composer for television) 'Traces' draws inspiration from the history and symbolism of St Paul's Cathedral via The Occupy Movement (in the sweeping 'King of Birds'), ponders the ways in which Charles Darwin's family life might have impacted on him as a thinker (in the poignant 'We're All Leaving') and recalls the childhood mystique of the BP petrochemical plant at Grangemouth on the River Forth (in the uplifting 'Tinsel Show'). A visceral connection to "the crimson towers of the city you were born in" underpins the hypnotic and percussive insistence of 'Tears for Lots Wife'; whilst the elegiac harmonium and accordion duet of 'Sticks N Stones' conjures the leaving of a family home via "inch marks on door frames" and the imprint of "hopes in the plasterboard".
Supported by her two regular touring collaborators, brother Steven Polwart (guitars & vocals) and Fair Islander Inge Thomson (accordion, percussion and vocals), Polwart's own direct musical contribution to Traces has expanded beyond her usual acoustic guitars to include Indian harmonium, floor percussion, and even modest use of field recordings.
Throughout the album this core trio is sympathetically augmented by producer Cook on piano, keys and percussion, and by judicious use of guest musicians on tuned percussion (marimba, vibraphone), wind (including Admiral Fallow's Sarah Hayes on flute) and horns.
These additional musical textures support songs such as 'Salter's Road', a gentle eulogy for Polwart's elderly neighbour, Molly Kristensen, and add drama and intensity to the unsettling 'Strange News', which captures the hour immediately after Polwart heard of the sudden death of her younger cousin, Ewan. A humane response to the darker side of life has rarely ever been far from Polwart's pen.
But 'Half a Mile', the unflinching closing track of Traces, is, by her own reckoning, the most difficult song she's committed to record yet. Written in memory of Northumbrian schoolgirl Susan Maxwell, who was abducted and murdered 30 years ago 'Cover Your Eyes' is featured in the end credits of Antony Baxter's multiple award-winning documentary,'You've Been Trumped.'

Her debut album "Faultlines" won three awards at the 2005 BBC Folk Awards, including Best Album. Its follow up, "Scribbled in Chalk" (2006), contained "Daisy", which won Polwart another BBC Folk Award for Best Original Song in 2007. Karine is also a founding member of the Scottish/Canadian group, The Burns Unit, whose 2010 album, Side Show, was widely acclaimed.

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released August 13, 2012

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Karine Polwart UK

One of the finest singer-songwriters in Britain" The Guardian

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