Sometimes the smallest and most particular of stories speak to the most powerful of human emotions and experiences. And so it is with Karine Polwart’s songs, peopled as they are with the ghosts of childhood adventures, elderly neighbours, eroding shorelines and exiled mothers. Her talent for crafting enduring melodies, her gift for saying just enough without overstating her case, the range and dynamism of her arrangements, all come together in songs of powerful contemporary relevance. She has also the most approachable of singing voices, drawing the listener towards her like a fireside storyteller.
Four-times winner at The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, twice for Best Original Song, her most recent album Traces (produced by Iain Cook of Chvrches) was shortlisted for both the Scottish Album of the Year Award and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Album of the Year. The Guardian chose it as international folk-roots release of 2012. Her debut solo album Faultlines won Best Album at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards back in 2005, following six years of touring as a traditional Scots singer with Malinky and Battlefield Band.
It’s a track record which has opened up intriguing musical opportunities in recent years. Karine has composed for two Scottish BAFTA nominated animation shorts, and produced song commissions for documentary film including the award-winningYou’ve Been Trumped. She has worked in collaboration with Lau, Chris Wood and and as a member of erstwhile Scots-Canadian combo The Burns Unit, featuring King Creosote. She is also in ongoing collaboration with acclaimed Greek-Cypriot songwriter and composer Alkinoos Ioannidis.
Throughout this whole period of collaborating, recording and touring, Karine has continued to teach with and write for community-based and educational projects, which is a key part of her core work as a singer, songwriter and composer. She says,
“I joined a folk song evening class in Edinburgh in my late twenties whilst I was still working in the field of domestic abuse and child protection. I can’t overstate how much it changed my life. It introduced me to a world of beautiful songs and brilliant people and offered me a quite unexpected opportunity to develop a career as a singer and a writer years after many music scenes have shunted women out the door. So teaching and community based work is really energising and inspiring to me on a personal level, and great fun”.
2015 finds Karine writing about human migration for Flit, an Edinburgh International Festival, Barbican and SAGE Gateshead co-production directed by Martin Green of Lau, and featuring Becky Unthank and Adrian Utley, ex of Portishead. She is composing also for the first ever stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf, By Niggle” in conjunction with Puppet State Theatre Company in Edinburgh.
She continues to work on thematic and collaborative projects that combine music, science, environment and politics and which take her this year to The Isle of Eigg (for Songs of Separation), to Durham (for The Changing Face of Revolt in tandem with Durham University and Folkworks) and to Breim in Norway (for Nordic and North Atlantic collaboration Blågras).
Karine has begun work on her sixth solo album (due for release in 2016) in collaboration with regular bandmates - brother Steven Polwart (acoustic and electric guitars, ukulele & vocals) and singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Inge Thomson (accordion, percussion, loops & vocals).
“Polwart writes music for social change, with lyrics that articulate their values poetically and succinctly, obliquely and persuasively” The Guardian
"An unflinching social eye" The Observer
"One of our most lyrically striking, and significant, artists" The List
31st Oct 2015
MERTHLY CASTLE - SOLO **SOLD OUT**
Murthly Castle Chapel
7th Nov 2015
PERTH - CONCERT HALL - DOUGIE MACLEAN & FRIENDS
Mill Street, Perth PH1 5HZ
13th Nov 2015
NEW GALLOWAY - CATSTRAND - SOLO + EMMA POLLOCK
The CatStrand High Street New Galloway Castle Douglas DG7 3RN
9th Jul 2016
FOLK AT THE HALL - TRELAWNYD
Trelawnyd Memorial Hall, London Road, Trelawnyd, Flintshire. LL18 6DN.