2009 marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s National Bard Robert Burns.
It is also the year that the Scottish Government named ‘Year of Homecoming’ inviting people from Scotland and beyond to celebrate Scotland’s contributions to the world.
With Jamie’ Scottish ancestry and Emily being born and raised only ten miles from Burns’ Dumfriesshire home of Ellisland Farm, it seemed fitting to make their contribution to the homecoming year an album of Robert Burns songs.
They started out with the intention to only include songs Burns wrote in or about Dumfriesshire but as they delved deeper with their search the album has become a collection of lesser known songs written by Burns, songs he collected and a few in there for no reason other than that they enjoy singing and playing them!
There is a happy, optimistic feel to this album. There are no broken hearts, no sad endings, just songs celebrating love, beauty and good times.Â From the delicate ‘Gowden Locks o Anna’ which Burns said was ‘the best love song I ever composed in my life’ to the jolly ‘Whistle o’er the Lave o it’, Smith and McClennan display their versatility as a duo occasionally underpinned by the bass skills of Duncan Lyall. Their imaginative choice of instrumentation and approach to arranging ensures each tracks sounds fresh to the listener’s ear be it original Burns or new settings of songs such as their powerful ‘Soldier’s Return’ and lullaby version of ‘Lassie Lie Near Me’.
250 years on Burns’ work still continues to inspire and entertain people all over the world. The sentiment of songs such as ‘A Man’s ‘A Man For A’ That’ still rings true with what we strive for in our lives today. He must have been a man full of charm and charisma but also a humble man who knew struggles and poverty in life all too well.
Hopefully in ‘Adoon Winding Nith’ you can find an appealing perspective on his work whether you’re new to Burns or a life long fan.