Album Review: Karine Polwart – Laws Of Motion


The ‘Laws Of Motion’ laid out by Karine Polwart dignify the undulation of nature, of human experience. She fills her newest album with tales of conflict and rest worldwide: Matsuo travels from the far reaches of Japan, and cautionary tales stretch across the Atlantic.

Polwart’s music flows easily and ever-changing, daring not to defy the ever-blowing sands of nature “restless men and women blow like sand across the border”. ‘Crow on the Cradle’ telling stories of children becoming the casualties of war; ‘Suitcase’ following the Jewish population fleeing Nazi occupation; and ‘Cassiopeia’, surviving the Cold War.

But, throughout, Polwart’s vision stretches wider. She warns Trump against preventing the tide of nature on behalf of the Isle of Lewis and Matsuo surrenders his life to the beautiful Japanese garden of Muckhart “be still and clear your mind…”

Karine Polwart’s work beautifully interweaves the electronic and the traditional. The blend of harmonies between her and Inge Thomson; Steven Polwart’s delicate guitar moves through the album; spoken word, public service announcements, birdsong, wind and music combine. “Robin” is a personal favourite. Symbolism of divine sacrifice, rebirth and patience associated with the robin urges us “have not a heavy heart” alike Polwart looking up beyond the electronic din of the radio up towards the bright constellation of Cassiopeia.    

[Imogen Hay – @ImogenIslay]

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