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Song of the Seals

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Album Review

Originally recorded in 1977 and reissued on CD in 1994, Song of the Seals is one of Jean Redpath's finest solo albums. As usual, she accompanies herself on guitar and, as is the case on a number of her records, she is also helped out by cellist Abby Newton, whose instrument adds a note of haunting melancholy to a number of the songs. Fiddler Jay Ungar contributes as well, but the focal point here is Redpath's sweetly rough mezzo-soprano and, of course, the songs themselves. All of them are lovely, but particular highlights include the gorgeous "Mill O'Tifty's Annie" (Child number 233) and the eerie title track, which draws on ancient Scottish legends of "seal folk" (who could "cast their sealskins and assume mortal form"). The album's emotional centerpiece, though, is the heartbreaking "College Boy," in which a young woman berates her father for marrying her to a teenage boy, then mourns her young groom's death. Highly recommended.


Born: 28 April 1937 in Edinburgh, Scotland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Blessed with a sweet but slightly roughened mezzo-soprano as gentle as mist and haunting as the highlands, Jean Redpath was one of the definitive interpreters of Scottish traditional songs. She was also a noted folk music ethnographer who played an important role in the reconstruction of nearly forgotten Scottish songs and was a lecturer at Scotland's Stirling University since 1979, and...
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Song of the Seals, Jean Redpath
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