For Strata, Siobhan Miller has recorded a collection of songs that she grew up listening to and singing in her youth. These eleven pieces run the gamut from the traditional through to the contemporary. The resulting album pays homage to and celebrates Miller’s past whilst looking towards the future.
Miller is helped in her tribute to her formative years by a spectacular array of talent. It’s difficult to go wrong when you’ve the likes of Andy Cunningham, Kris Drever, Aiden O’Rourke and Ian Carr as your album backing band.
The six traditional songs will be familiar to many listeners. Miller’s arrangements are tasteful and sensitive whilst, it must be said, not really breaking any new ground.
Two exceptions to this are The Sun Shines High and The Month of January. The former song is set to an insistent drum rhythm which drives the song forward and echoes the journey at the heart of the piece. The Month of January is notable for an extended harmonium coda over the familiar sound of Drever’s guitar.
Strata also contains a mini tribute to Dick Gaughan, with renditions of two numbers from his songbook (although not ones written by him). What You Do With What You’ve Got is infectious and sunny but Miller doesn’t quite get to the cold anger at the heart of Pound a Week Rise.
Much more successful is a cover of One Too Many Mornings. Over a simple guitar and piano accompaniment, Miller’s voice beautifully interprets Bob Dylan’s words.
The album ends with a spirited rendition of The Ramblin’ Rover. There are some people who say that this song should always be sung acapella but they’re wrong, especially when Phil Cunningham plays the accordion.
Although it, on occasion, plays a little too safe, Strata is an album that comes from the heart. Miller’s warm paean to her past is sure to bring pleasure to many.Stephen Witkowski
Released on 24 February 2017 on Songprint Recordings.
1. Banks of Newfoundland
2. What You Do With What You’ve Got
3. One Too Many Mornings
4. Pound a Week Rise
5. The Unquiet Grave
6. Thanksgiving Eve
7. The Sun Shines High
8. The Month of January
9. False, False
10. Bonny Light Horseman
11. The Ramblin’ Rover