By Dave Kushar 

For a short spell when a majority of activity grinds to a halt around Christmas I find the stillness requires a special musical accompaniment. Something to complement the thin winter sunlight and the raw weather. If you're on the same wavelength as me you should seek out the latest from Karine Polwart. The trad Scottish content on 'Fairest Floo'er has a bitter bite which is offset by tender words of love.

Having spent time in Malinky and The Battlefield Band, recorded her first two solo albums 'Faultlines' and 'Scribbled In Chalk' this is now a back to the roots type project. Karine says 'it reveals a lot about where I come from both musically and personally'.

The words of Robert Burns take up a large proportion of the album and nowhere are they more eerie and sorrowful than on 'Dowie Dens Of Yarrow'. Led through the track by the congenial piano of Kim Edgar, Karine delivers the gutrenching storyline like a cello being bowed.

Recently Karine has eloquently put forward a case for a narrative to be presented simply, emphasizing the emotional element of the already potent songs. As a consequence she hasn't felt the need to bring such an experimental direction. With these results I can only wholeheartedly endorse her philosophy. 

Primitive abortion, set to a shruti box The Death Of Queen Jane and a mother's grief for her sons The Wife Of Usher's Well must be poignant themes as Karine has recorded this album after a maternity break of her own.

Amid the knotty narratives The Learig and it's words of devotion are brought into sharp focus. With her Scottish accent to the fore it is a well timed release from the building tension.

Steven Polwart and Karine lay down some inventive interlocking guitar and banjo patterns. Also for a spare room in her house, production is never short of a deserving vividness. 

With another album of originals on the way and a re-scheduled tour to look forward to Karine is back with a flourish. A different demonstration of her idiosyncratic talents 'Fairest Floo'er' allows all mundane thought to be suspended and the music to flood the senses.