FolkWords Reviews

‘East’ from Iona Fyfe Band – leaves you wanting more

(July 01, 2016)

Drawing deeply from the well of folksong that comes from the east of Scotland, ‘East’ the debut EP by Iona Fyfe Band rises like the East EP covermorning lark. Treating the listener to six slices of East and North East tradition with an inspired contemporary edge, ‘East’ hooks immediately, remains with you a long time and leaves you wanting more.

From the instantly recognised bothy ballad, ‘Sleepytoon’, through the spritely Fyfe original ‘Pride of Aberdeen’ to the many versioned and well-known ballad ‘Queen Amang the Heather’, Iona’s crystal clear and infinitely expressive voice soars through the songs. From unaccompanied voice to the band in full-flow, ‘East’ stands as a testament to the strength, endurance and adaptability of the tradition. It also offers ample evidence that traditions of music, dialect and heritage remain definitely in good hands, listen to Iona sing the melancholy ‘Cairn o’ Mount’ or absorb the band delivering another many-versioned song ‘Earl Richard’.

Creating the magic on ‘East’ are Iona Fyfe (vocals, piano, shruti box) Charlie Grey (fiddle, tenor guitar) Chris Ferrie (guitar, bodhran) Callum Cronin (double bass) and Ross Miller (border pipes)

Folk Radio UK East Review


Queen Amang the Heather from East was also included in FRUK’s  Lost in Transmission Mixtape

Various female artists from multiple musical genres were invited to record a piece of music inspired by the women of Aberdeen/shire (past or present). ‘Even in Winter’ is the result. Artwork illustrations by Gabi Reith.


Iona Fyfe – Pride of Aberdeen


Pride of Aberdeen or “Nellie of Aberdeen” or “Young Ellen of Aberdeen” is found in John Ords Bothy Songs and Ballads of Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, Angus and the Mearns. Various versions of the song is also found in Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection Volume 6. Originally collected by James Duncan in January 1906 from performers such as John McAllan ( Sep 1907), William Ross (Sep 1909), John Garioch (Apr 1859), Charles Walker ( Apr 1906) Maggie Watt (Apr 25th 1905) and Isaac Troup (Sep 11th 1907) The oldest known version of the song is from 21st April 1859 from John Garioch however the song was commonly sung by males in the first decade of the 1900’s. Roud Index: 2179

Although the origins of the song is unknown, the song seems to be a lament about a girl who is orphaned at 11 and falls sick at 17 before she could marry the narrative singer/writer of the song. I chose to rewrite the melody of the song and have wrote an extra verse (V1 A and B) as I felt the song needed a little bit of introduction and that the first line “All earthly pleasures now are fled” needed some verse before it.

All proceeds from the compilation will go to Aberdeenshire North Foodbank and it is available to buy here. A downloadable stream of the compilation is available here: