Katherine Campbell – Robert Burns Tune Unknown

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5

Released for Burns Day 2019 this is a labour of love. Singer and Robert Burns authority Katherine Campbell has selected 10 songs where the original tune is unknown or lost. The tunes and piano accompaniment are all Katherine’s own. The considered beautiful piano, the wonderful recordings and Campbell’s pure voice suggest a classical recital, but there is a warmth in both her playing and her vocals. On songs like “If Ye Gae Up To Yon Hill Tap” and “Her Flowing Locks The Ravens Wing” the resonant piano and the rhythmic vocal have a dark beauty. I found myself listening once for Katherine’s vocal, rich, distinctive and pure like Vashti Bunyan or even Shirley Collins. Then listening again for those ringing piano chords with the melancholic limpid beauty of Bill Evans. By choosing songs previously unheard Katherine has shown as different side to Burns. It will be interesting to see what fans make of this more obscure material. Burns fans new and old will find much of interest in the notes and dialect glossary as well as these stripped back but starkly beautiful songs and arrangements.