I’m absolutely over the moon to announce that the lovely folks at The Living Tradition have made my year (life) by putting me on the front cover of the February-March issue and giving me a lovely feature interview with Hector Christie!

Buy the issue here: bit.ly/2SaGpjT

So very excited to get stuck into Celtic Connections! Find me here ⬇️

19/1 Brave in Concert, GRCH Main Auditorium

2:00pm and 5:30pm bit.ly/2OHVWBV

27/1 The Bairns o’ Blythman

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 8:00pm bit.ly/2TzaOp4

31/1 Navá and Iona Fyfe

Strathclyde Suite, GRCH 8:00pm bit.ly/2TUm9A9

Other non-celticy January shows:

25/1 Fridays at One: Interwoven

Stevenson Hall, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

1:00pm bit.ly/2M1KiSz

26/1 Aberdeen Arts Centre, Polish Scottish Folk Night

8:30pm bit.ly/2SNtIs7

Iona Fyfe – Dark Turn Of Mind | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS

2018 was a breakthrough for Huntly singer Iona Fyfe. Between releasing an acclaimed debut album, touring the world and deservedly winning prestigious prizes, she has truly etched herself as one of Scotland’s most astounding young folk talents. But there is no rest for the wicked, as she kicks off 2019 in stylish fashion with her new EP – Dark Turn Of Mind.

Instead of being based around prevalent Scottish tunes, she decides to take a stab at a range of songs from the likes of established writers such as Gillian Welch and Gregory Isakov, or time-honoured pieces curated by the Appalachians, and she gives her own takes on them that go in a different direction from the roots she built herself around, yet still carry those same traditional fundamentals.

As is her wont, Iona stuns with a voice that has a broad pitch, gently serenading through the low notes, while being able to sharply hit the resounding high notes, and across the board, she maintains a magnetic quality that has the listener hooked on to every word.

She matches up well with the warm backing harmonies of Aidan, and the group as a whole for that matter are terrific, from Aidan and Graham’s smooth work on the guitar and mandolin respectively, to the splendid skills of Rory on the piano.

Beyond her performance, this record is a great example of Iona’s ability to tackle a variety of styles; Swing And Turn has a spirit and vitality to it, Let Him Sink is milder yet engrossing, The Golden Vanity has a touch of a grand scale, and she goes with a Moira Stewart-inspired a capella approach in Little Musgrave .

For those who are newcomers, this is an optimal introductory sampler to Iona Fyfe, which also serves as an ideal gateway to the more popular, involved material that has established her as the bright talent that she is.

Again, we find it hard to believe she’s only 20 years old. She’s already amassed a line of quality content and achieved so much, and yet, she’s still to hit her prime. Iona is as pure and valid as they get, and if she continues down the path she is on, who knows just how significant a legacy she will leave behind.



★★★★ Northern Sky Read here.

Fresh on the tails of 2018’s excellent AWAY FROM MY WINDOW, Iona Fyfe returns with a six track release, DARK TURN OF MIND. Iona’s 2018 debut album after a series of Eps established her as one of Scotland’s finest ballad singers and rooted in the tradition while not afraid to experiment and absorb ideas. Expanding on her singing within the Doric Venacular and the Scots language of the North East, DARK TURN OF MIND features material by American writers and songs of Scottish origin that had travelled to America.

Dark Turn Of Mind is a superb song written and recorded by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, originally recorded on Gillian’s 2011, THE HARROW AND THE HARVEST album. Deftly Iona has most definitely not recorded an Americana album. Her reading of the song, swings like Gillian’s but avoids echoing any of her evocative Country drawled inflections. Iona, sounds like herself, her voice wrapping round the words like they are her own. Her pace and Rory Matheson’s tasteful piano suggest a soulful sensitive jazz ballad. Swing And Turn has more sparkle and attack, Iona and Aidan’s vocals bob and dance delightfully over the accompaniment. Aidan’s guitar and Graham Rorie’s mandolin drive the song on, Rory Matheson’s piano part is interesting too, owing more to Chris McGregor and Jazz than the Folk tradition. If I Go, I’m Goin is written and originally performed by Gregory Alan Isakov. Iona confesses, if that’s the word, to hearing it first in the soundtrack to the US David Ducovny TV show Californication. Perhaps she’ll turn to some Red Hot Chilli Peppers next. Personally I think its a strength of the Folk Tradition that no sources are off limits, so no implied apology needed. If I Go, I’m Going is an intimate reading by two perfectly measured vocalists of a wonderful song. Golden Vanity has its origins as an 17th Century ballad collected as far afield as Aberdeenshire, England, Canada and the Appalachians. Essentially a dark tale of reneged desperate promises, Iona Fyfe’s voice soars on this track, generating atmosphere, rising and falling like the sea. Let Him Sink, with its strident vocal, ringing piano and florishes of guitar, in feel and arrangement reminded  me of June Tabor or Joni Mitchell’s Blue. There is space around those huge emotional piano notes and Iona’s singing and everything shines.

Little Musgrave is an a capella version of this classic folk ballad. Iona’s version is an amalgam of Jeanne Robertson’s Little Musgrave and a version from Cecil Sharp’s English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. Many like me, might be more familiar with the 17th Century song and story as Matty Groves. Versions and variations exist by Frankie Armstrong, Joan Baez, Fairport Convention, Christy Moore and more recently Alela Diane. Iona’s version is rythmic and hypnotic, her wonderful voice carries the tune and words perfectly with some fine flourishes.

DARK TURN OF MIND demonstrates the restless searching of Iona Fyfe. The voice is the same and she gets inside the songs she has collected together here. What is also interesting and a credit to Iona is how different this sounds to 2018’s AWAY FROM MY WINDOW and how she and the players have made the material their own. The beauty of interpreters of song, is that they encourage the seeking out of originals and other versions, DARK TURN OF MIND has led me to Gregory Alan Isakov and reconnected to Gillian Welch, hopefully it will work the other way too for Iona Fyfe.

Marc Higgins
Northern Sky