Vanuit Schotland, dat deel van Engeland waar de traditie van het zingen nog altijd erg goed in ere gehouden wordt, krijgen we dit korte schijfje toegestuurd, al gebeurde dat eigenlijk via een ommetje naar Duitsland. Deze ep is een voorproefje van de begin 2018 te verschijnen debuutplaat van de nog erg jong ogende Iona Fyfe, een dame uit de regio Aberdeenshire, die de eretitels aan elkaar rijgt: zopas werd ze “BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017” en voordien was ze al vier keer op rij winnares van de “best local singer” prijs op het Keith TMSA festival, ze werd ook beste in de categorie “female traditional singer” bij TMSA Falkland in 2014 en vorig jaar won ze zowel in de categorie “Ladies traditional Singing” in Aberdeen als “Female Singer” bij de Buchan Heritage Society.

Vooraleer u daar een beetje lacherig over doet: dergelijke wedstrijden zijn in Schotland bloedige ernst en er wordt door honderden mensen aan deelgenomen. Noem het gerust het equivalent van de Rock Rally bij ons. Dat Iona prijs na prijs wint, bewijst dus op zijn minste dat het hele eiland of minstens toch met muziekminnende deel ervan -en zijn ze dat ginds niet allemaal?- haar stem en haar zang begint te (h)erkennen.

Dit ep’tje bevat slechts zes songs, waarvan vijf traditionals zijn. Meestal gaat het om eeuwenoude ballades, die via de zogeheten liedboeken die de Bothy Songs verzamelen, van generatie op generatie overgeleverd worden. Zelf was ik maar met twee van de vijf traditionals bekend, namelijk het openende “Sleepytoon” en “Earl Richard”, maar dat is niet meteen belangrijk: waar het hier om gaat, is dat je een staaltje krijgt van het vocale kunnen van Iona Fyfe, die zichzelf begeleidt op piano en Indisch harmonium of shruti box en verder bijstand krijgt van Callum Cronin op staande bas, Chris Ferrie op gitaar en bodhran, Charlie Grey op fidele en tenorgitaar en Ross Miller op allerhande doedelzakken.

Samen leveren zij een ultra fijn kennismakingsplaatje af, waar je alleen maar met ontzag kunt naar luisteren: het respect voor de traditie, gemengd met het oog op moderniteit en de welhaast perfecte beheersing van de verschillende instrumenten -waarvan de stem er één is-, maakt dit schijfje tot een waar genot om naar te luisteren. En meteen ook maar uitkijken naar die full cd, begin volgend jaar….

(Dani Heyvaert)


From Scotland, that part of England where the tradition of singing is still very much honored, we will send this short slice, even though it actually happened to Germany. This ep is a preview of the debut album of early 2018, by Iona Fyfe, a lady from the Aberdeenshire region, who is joining the title of the title: “Radio Radio Young Musician of the Year 2017” and before she had won the best local singer award winner at the Keith TMSA festival, she became best in the “female traditional singer” category at TMSA Falkland in 2014 and last year she won both in the category “Ladies Traditional Singing” in Aberdeen as “Female Singer” at the Buchan Heritage Society.

Before doing a little bit of humor, such matches are bloody serious in Scotland and hundreds of people participate. Feel free to call us the equivalent of the Rock Rally. That Iona’s prize wins at least, at least, proves that the whole island or at least with music-loving part-and are they not all that? – Her voice and her vocals begin to (h) acknowledge.

This epic contains only six songs, five of which are traditional. Most of the time, it’s about ancient ballads, which are handed over from generation to generation via the so-called songbooks that collect the Bothy Songs. I was only familiar with two of the five traditions, namely the opening “Sleepytoon” and “Earl Richard”, but that’s not immediately important: what’s going on is that you get a voice from Iona Fyfe’s vocal ability , who accompanies himself on piano and Indian harmonium or shruti box and is further assisted by Callum Cronin on standing bass, Chris Ferrie on guitar and bodhran, Charlie Gray on fidele and tenor and Ross Miller on all sorts of bagpipes.

Together, they deliver an ultra-nice touch of attention to listening to: respect for tradition mixed with modernity and the almost perfect control of the various instruments-of which the voice is one-makes this disc is a real pleasure to listen to. And look forward to that full cd, start next year ….

(Dani Heyvaert)




Read the review here.


“Six traditional songs from the North East of Scotland from a young musician with quite a nice little pedigree already backing her up. Song-wise, it’s a wise choice; the heritage of songs from the North East being a rich treasure trove of culture, dialect and history from which to mine – the Greig-Duncan collection itself running to eight volumes.

Fyfe, the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Finalist 2017 and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2015 Semi-Finalist finds herself supported by Charlie Grey, Chris Ferrie, Callum Cronin and Ross Miller.

A prime selection highlights ballads, love songs and bothy ballads, and a selection too whose common thread lies in the beauty of the simplicity of the interpretations – the innocence of youth coming through if you like – so that their origins are respectfully maintained without veering wildly from the source.

Having said that, there’s a young vibrancy about the delivery as a jaunty fiddle opens up Sleepytoon, followed by a gorgeous Pride Of Aberdeen which drives gently along before the mournful strains of Queen Amang The Heather. The latter hanging on a combination of rolling piano and twisting and occasionally verging on discordant fiddle.

Fyfe’s voice gets boldly showcased unaccompanied on the “bleak and bare” Cairn O’ Mount, while Earl Richard gets another bright and lively reading as the tale unfolds, with the later introduction of the pipes adding once again to the rich instrumental tapestry.

The EP culminates with a version of Bonny Udny – a song which had scored an unprecedented, X-Factor styled, 100/100 points in the Traditional Song category at the Buchan Heritage Society.

All told, East is an intriguing set of songs for a first EP and an indication of the strength of what lies in the Scots tradition. One also which represents a record of the fledgling flight of an artist whose own story could run and run.”

Mike Ainscoe

“Iona Fyfe (and band’s) “East” EP has been out for a while; since July 1st in actuality.

Four months have passed, the leaves now fall and the darkening has already beckoned. When the cold weather truly starts I know several people who will be looking back and lamenting the loss of the sun. The only lament I have is that I did not share my experiences of this disc by Iona Fyfe sooner. As an individual with an incredibly thorough interest in the new and developing folk sub-genres, I am surprisingly growing an appreciation for the traditional as well (yes, I  will admit it is not my first folk of choice). It is certainly encouraging to see these forms being reproduced and continued with younger artists, and it is done with an honest passion here. Iona’s tour has now ended and the whirlwind of heather breeze has settled, so I would like to look back at this release and let you know what I thought, but first who is Iona Fyfe and her band?

Iona Fyfe is a musician, a young musician who is blessed more than her namesake (which means “blessed”). Through Scotlands’ youth art programme “Time to Shine” she has made an impact on the folk circuit from Prestonpans to Dalbeattie on tour, was a semi-finalist for the BBC2 Young Folk Award in 2015 through interpretations of traditional songs (in particular ballads), and a BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017 Finalist. It is a growing profile and clearly must be a source of pride for the traditional scene in Scotland and the UK as a whole. The band consists of Iona (vocals, piano, Shruti box), Charlie Grey (fiddle, tenor, guitar), Chris Ferrie (guitar, bodhran), Callum Cronin (double bass), and Ross Miller (border pipes). A folk-rich variety of instruments (particularly the Shruti box, love the sound of this) there are some interesting opportunities within this Gaelic assembly; the tour for the most part is over, but there are some dates coming up early next year (see here) so with all that being said how is the EP?

The first track “Sleepytoon” (Roud 3775) is an Aberdeenshire “bothy ballad” often sung by farm servants of their wages and lives that helped during tasks they performed through the day. There are a few striking things in this track which draws me to it alongside the possibly satirical content of the “hard-working farmer” such as Iona Fyfe’s voice and the great interplay between double bass, bodhran, and fiddle. It is said that much of the magic in folk is in the arrangement, particularly as there are so many good singers out there and it becomes a legendary quest to categorise and describe these competing talents. Iona’s voice is like a graphene butterfly, delicate in form but strong in flexibility and character. She draws a lot from the track and an undisguised reverence for the material in her intonation, a fluttering, melodic Summer shawl of colour. The fiddle finds a characters in few dark corners to get dancing too, the bodhran lays down the cobbles for a wonderful mountainous trek too.

More contemporary sounding but sharing in the “bothy” status, “pride of Aberdeen” follows the story of a girl orphaned at 11, engaged at 17 and unfortunate to pass away in the same year. Not an uncommon story, one that in a similar vein resonates even into the pop world with “The Trees They do Grow High” it has a consistent undercurrent of energy and is peppered with an almost modern sounding Country accompaniment. Track three’s “Queen Amang the Heather” broods quite a bit more. Under the established fiddle we have a love ballad that is bolstered by Iona’s piano. It paints the picture of seduction well, Iona’s interpretation feels fast-paced and at certain points in the track seems to veer in another, exciting direction as like when malting barley, it turns and catches your senses. “Cairn o’ Mount” is an Aberdeen song covered fairly extensively by tradition bearers. The instrumentation falls away here, Iona’s voice is the vehicle for a fine blend, a budding surge of a number that displays her voice as a fresh, charismatic call to history. “Bonny Udny”, the final track is a different kind of tradition, namely one making reference to Udny (the village in Aberdeenshire) and the love of the character’s life. Slightly epic in terms of ballads it starts out as a quiet piano reflection but later is a marriage of the pipes, present guitar and a fiddle chaperone. The solo instrumental at the end is something to particularly look forward to here.

Alongside “Sleepytoon”, “Earl Richard” is a favourite on the album. A song covering part of an epic story about a woman killing her ex-lover who previously jilted her and is in keeping with the remainder of the tracks with it’s myth and history but extent of the song’s movement to England and across the water explains the scope of the material has traditionally had. The pipes are strong with this one, it is performed with character almost like how you might imagine it told over a campfire, gestures and all. Also, what is not to like about talking birds? A sustained number which benefits from keeping up the pace.

The Iona Fyfe Band in performance here have convinced me further of the intrigue lurking in Aberdeenshire, of the annuls of history and the dark secrets of lovers, farmers and the land. The land seems so far up and away from me, but a piece of it has now come to me. It is traditional folk indeed, but with a particular flair and vigour that shows more than a nod to the time and land of the past.
Their music seems inseparable from the place, and hark my words this is no bad thing at all.

Fans of folk music that is rooted in the Scotland Highlands need to see what the fuss is about with Iona Fyfe, and look at the hands and hearts that many of these historical artifacts will be carried by in years to come.

There is a lot to like on this disc, it is in all senses a successful, flavoursome EP that thoroughly breathes Aberdeenshire in both reverence and quality.
If you like traditional folk, this EP is a no-brainer, if there are any left you should go and get one right now. ”


screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-12-09-09Read the whole review here: Folk Phenomena East Review



Folk Radio UK East Review


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