One fifth of Breabach, Some Kind of Certainty is Ewan Robertson’s first album. The Winner of BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician 2008, part of Ewan’s prize was the opportunity to record an album, and this is the result.
The album contains a couple of traditional songs, but is mostly filled with material from British songwriters. Ewan’s vocals and guitar are delightfully accompanied by a variety of instruments, including swathes of strings, and at one point a brass section.
An early highlight is Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson. Ewan’s guitar drives and skips along with a lovely vocal line and harmonies provided by Emily Smith.
In complete musical contrast When I’m Gone is a beautiful slow meditation on dying, or rather living whilst you can. The accompaniment is delicate without being stripped back, giving the lyrics the room they need to become poignant.
An outstanding element of this album is the arrangements and orchestration of each track. A lot is always going on, but you can see there has been real consideration and understanding behind the arrangements. Not once does the multi-layered sound become even close to overblown.
Man of War contains Jews Harp throughout and it works incredibly well. Equally, Ship in Order, which begins so gently, crescendoes effortlessly and naturally to a finale of strings and brass.
Doesn’t Get Better Than This is a slow and more contemplative song but it still has that quicksilver quality that reels you in which is common throughout this album. Each song truly is a gem.
The story of a pigeon racer might not be the most likely of inspirations for a song, but King of Rome ennobles bird and breeder in a beautiful tale of hope and endurance. A slow burner, King of Rome is a wonderful track on an impressive first album.Liz Osman
Released on Greentrax Recordings
1. One For the Ditch
2. Vincent Black Lightning
3. When I’m Gone
4. Man of War
5. King of Rome
6. Ride Away
7. Oh Gin I Were
8. Doesn’t Get Better Than This
9. Scarecrow Song
10. Ship in Order