Review Archive

Ewan McLennan and his album ‘The Last Bird To Sing’

(April 26, 2012)

Indelibly etched in my mind are the many times I recollect seeing Dick Gaughan perform at folk clubs throughout the UK. His passion and at times seething contempt for an unjust society also carries overEwan McLennan into that conveyed by this decade’s young pretender Ewan McLennan and his album ‘The Last Bird To Sing’.

Perhaps more restrained but still with a bite that would be the envy of many a Rottweiler his composition ‘Whistling The Esperanza’ is a damning indictment of a company’s greed at the expense of those who have to ply their trade getting their hands dirty digging for gold. Much like Durham’s pitman poet Tommy Armstrong his way with words will I’m sure reverberate for years to come earning him a place in the folk balladeers hall of fame. On another track memories of the ‘Your Country Needs You…’ proclaimed by Lord Kitchener from the famous poster are given short shrift in another of McLennan’s songs ‘Joe Glenton’ which might prick your conscience in a Tom Paxton kind of way.

He’s also no slouch on the guitar with a precisely finger-picked ‘Reeling & Staggering/Napoleon Crossing The Alps’ (hands up anyone old enough to remember the Morris On version of ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest’…oh, maybe it’s just me then?). With contributions from John McCusker, Martin Simpson, Karine Polwart and Laurence Blackadder this second recording doesn’t appear to have been difficult at all and, along with the evocative artwork by Meg Buik I’d say it’s well worth purchasing to show off your musical taste at a more civilised version of Come Dine With Me. ‘The Last Bird To Sing’ is available on Fellside Recordings FECD250.

Reviewer: Pete Fyfe

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