Karine Polwart’s new album, A Pocket Of Wind Resistance (created and produced with sound designer and composer Pippa Murphy), is a companion piece to their acclaimed stage production Wind Resistance, which I had the privilege of seeing during its recent run at The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. Like the stage production, the album is an intimate and delicately crafted exploration of memory and myth; bird lore and deep ecology; the cycle of life; and the ways in which people protect and care for one another, and for all life, by (in Karine’s own words) “…stepping up, falling back, labouring and resting…”

Two of the project’s key cornerstones are the poignant, true story of Will and Roberta Sime’s romance in the early 1900s and the ever-shifting skeins of migrating geese which arrive in the Firth of Forth each September, the out-stretched wing-tips of each goose taking turns to create an upwash, a pocket of wind resistance for the bird tucked in behind and below.

Much of the historical and present day narratives centre around Karine Polwart’s home village of Pathhead in Midlothian and the nearby Fala Moor, Fala Flow and Soutra Hill.

All of the inter-connected themes are explored lovingly by Karine Polwart in a combination of captivating songs and absorbing passages of spoken word, spun out against backdrops of epic, cinematic soundscapes. On the less traditional songs, Karine’s multi-tracked vocals and the ambient and percussive undertow of the music recall Hounds Of Love – era Kate Bush.

To immerse yourself in this album is to experience a wide range of emotions. It humbled me, it made me smile, it made me cry and I felt complete empathy with the central characters of Will and Roberta Sime.

This is an important, some might say essential, album and it deserves to be widely heard.
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Photo courtesy of Reed Ingram Weir.

A Pocket Of Wind Resistance was released on 17th November 2017 via Hudson Records. For more information on Karine Polwart, click here.