Words by Tim Woodall
Ewan McLennan continues his evolution into a major figure on the Scottish folk scene with his third album. Stories Still Untold is the next step along the path for McLennan rather than being a new departure, and is all the better for it. Like its predecessors, the album brings together old and new songs. Also consistent is McLennan’s musicianship – the delicate brushstrokes of his exact guitar-picking and his stirring, quavering singing – and his storytelling focus on social politics. Warm and subtle instrumental contributions from leading folk players fill out the sound, including Lauren MacColl’s viola and Ross Ainslie’s whistles.
Traditional material researched by McLennan and original song-writing are perfectly balanced, with old texts put to new music on ‘Song of the Lower Classes’. That McLennan’s story-songs stand up next to traditional tunes like ‘The Shearing’ (arranged with beautiful backing vocals from Siobhan Miller) show their true quality. One of his pieces in particular, ‘Out on the Banks’, is hair-raising in its nostalgic simplicity. Each one of the 13 tracks here, whether pub ballads or great history stories from Scotland and Ireland, adds to the whole picture of an artist whose music lives and breathes.