She has all that in spades.
From that haunting opening of the first track 'The Magical West', with its echoes of Enya and Clannad, gradually and effortlessly transforming into a rhythmic, rock-drummed, pacey number, you just know you're in for something special here. She doesn't let you down. It's her third collaboration with producer/singer/songwriter/musician Troy Donockley. His contribution to this CD is not to be underestimated .... fantastic production values: the man's a genius. If only we all had his musical ear, his sense of pace, his sensitivity to the needs of the songs.
There are twelve tracks: eight of them trad/arr; one by Barbara and Troy (the opening track); 'Smile in Your Sleep' by Jim McLean; 'My Donald by Owen Hand; and the final track 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' (now there's eclectic for you) by Paul Simon. 52 minutes of sheer listening pleasure. Difficult to pick a favourite ... they're all so good; but if pressed I'd go for the unaccompanied 'Will Ye Gang Love?' Mesmeric, clear, bright, delivered with all the skill and devotion of a true professional: a performer at her peak.
I think you can read the subtext... I like this CD. No, I love this CD.
'SUNDAY EXPRESS' - February 2011 (Review by Simon Gage)
Barbara Dickson really does have one of the most beautiful and underrated voices in popular music.
On this pared-down collection she has very much returned to her folk roots with never much more than a guitar or a piano to detract from that voice, especially lovely on a capella track 'Will Ye Gang Love?'
Even her version of Simon and Garfunkel’s heavily-covered 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' somehow sounds fresh and poignant.
Anyone who still thinks of Barbara as the woman who went back-to-back with Elaine Paige on 'I Know Him So Well' should give it a try.
'CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY' - February 2011
She began her career as a talented folk musician and then got famous. Now she leans towards her roots again and after the success of her 2004 album, 'Full Circle', produced by Troy Donockley, she returns again with Troy in the producer's chair with another batch of class folk songs. With a tidy blend of upbeat and ballads she concludes with Paul Simon's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. Her voice remains crystal clear and with a clan of fine musicians this will do nicely for the folk rock fans of the world.
'FOLKING.COM' - February 2011 (Review by Pete Fyfe)
Having travelled musically from her recognised commercial sound back to traditional roots, Barbara Dickson has now become, more or less, a duo working with her collaborator of many years multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. This album nails its ‘folk’ colours firmly to the mast by starting with “The Magical West” (co-written by the protagonists) featuring a technically nuanced display of low whistle provided by the former You Slosh member and serves as the appetizer before the main course.
I would like to point out that those expecting ‘commercial’ styled arrangements won’t find it on this recording as this is a far subtler project reflected in Dickson’s choice of songs. From established ballads including “Jamie Raeburn” and “King Orfeo” to Robert Burns “Ca’ The Yowes” it would appear that Ms Dickson relishes the challenge in the re-birth of her musical direction and with arrangements that are sparse but effective she seamlessly appears to have crossed back with no difficulty.
As stated before, this is predominantly a traditional recording with the only other concession being Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” that finishes the album simply backed by Donockley’s finger picked guitar. Of course, Dickson’s retrospective career, having plied her trade in folk clubs now stands her in good stead for a return to the fold and it’s pleasing to note that she has already been booked by several ‘folk’ festivals throughout 2011.
'ROCK 'N' REEL/R2 MAGAZINE' - March/April 2011 (Review by Dai Jeffries)
Barbara has been a professional singer for more than forty years and all her experience has gone into this album. The eight traditional songs in this collection seem so easy and familiar I was sure she had recorded some of them before. No, the nearest she came was backing vocals on Archie Fisher’s version of ‘Orfeo’.
Troy Donockley is again in charge of production and arranging, and the opening track ‘The Magical West’ is collaboration between him and Barbara. In the days of singles this would have been it. Now it’s an attention-grabbing hors d’oeuvre for a lovely piano-based version of ‘Jamie Raeburn’ and a simple guitar, whistle and drum setting of ‘Ythanside’. The unaccompanied ‘Will Ye Gang Love’, ‘My Donald’, ‘Kishmul’s Galley’ and ‘Ca’ The Yowes’ also come from my imagined version of her past.
The closing track is a beautifully simple take on ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, a change of pace from some of Troy’s musical flights of fancy. It may be too often covered but Barbara knows the worth of a good song and succeeds in stamping her individuality on it.
'THE LIVING TRADITION' MAGAZINE - April 2011 (Review by Grem Devlin)
This album further reinforces my gut instinct that Barbara Dickson has found herself in a happy place by returning to her roots. Her vocal delivery is confident and relaxed, her choice of musicians and particularly the producer (Troy Donockley) are excellent again, and the material chosen wisely. The high points for me are her new reading of Jamie Raeburn and Kishmul’s Galley both of which have been handled with kid gloves by the ensemble. She also gives us the evidence that she is one of only a handful of artistes on the planet that can pull off a retelling of Bridge Over Troubled Water with consummate aplomb (and this is with just one voice and guitar - stunning). Her version of the usually unaccompanied Personent Hodie with instrumental backing is yet to win me around, but give me time – I’m getting old and stuck my ways.
Much of the credit must go to Troy D, who plays a multitude of instruments, but most significantly the uilleann pipes, which legitimizes the feel of the project in some way when they are introduced. If this assembly of musicians is also the touring band (and by all accounts Troy is definitely at the helm) then they’re worth trying to catch live on this showing.
The opening song, a co-write between Dickson and Donockley, The Magical West, is a perfect bookend to match the aforementioned Paul Simon song at the tail end. Hats off to Ms D.
WORDS UNSPOKEN (2011)
'ENGLISH DANCE & SONG ' - June 2011 (David Warwick)
Barbara Dickson, OBE, should be awarded a Lottery grant. She is a national treasure of the very best kind. She's a busy live performer; a multi-million selling recording artist with hit singles and gold and platinum albums; an Olivier-award winning actress; a wife and mother of three sons. In fact she's the Bonnie Tyler of the folk world (or is Bonnie Tyler the Barbara Dickson of rock?)
Barbara was already a singer of traditional Scottish songs when, for most of us, her career burst into life in 1974, when she gained the role of the singer/pianist in Willy Russell's John Paul George Ringo and Bert (a sadly neglected play: blame Michael Jackson for restricting the rights to the Beatles songs). Between then and now, there has been an enviable career by any standards, and you only get that with talent, creativity, stamina and the discipline to put it all together.