Tuesday, August 30, 2011

from Scotland: Emily Smith: Traiveller's Joy

As is the case with most who follow music as a profession, Emily Smith finds herself spending quite a bit of time in travel. She often prefers to source the songs she does and ideas for the ones she writes from close by her home in the southwest of Scotland. emily smith galsgow copyright kerry dexterFor her album Traiveller’s Joy, she’s chosen to source songs and ideas from her time on the road, as well.

One of these is her own song Butterfly, enchanting images with a thoughtful story of thinking of those back home which Smith wrote while at a festival Goderich, in Ontario, Canada, looking out at Lake Huron and thinking of Scotland. A rather different perspective on a similar idea came to her during a day off on the road while in Australia, which turned in to the song called Take You Home. Lord Donald is a traditional song which holds a story which has made its way under several names through Irish and American tradition as well as Scottish: it’s a tale of a man whose emily smith glasgow kerry dextersweetheart (may have) poisoned him with eel broth. Smith learnt her version while studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, from a tutor who had it from Jeannie Robertson, a tradition bearer form Aberdeenshire.

Gypsy Davy is another song that has made its way through many traditions. Smith learned this one from an American source, musician Tim Eriksen. Sweet Lover of Mine is a song from the tradition with tasteful adaptation from Smith, which had its origins as a lover’s riddle song from County Derry in Ireland. Roll on Lovely Doon came from closer to home for Smith, in several ways. She wrote the melody, to words from a poem by Argyllshire poet Robert Hettrick. Smith came by the book of Hettrick’s poems in which she found this from a local shepherd, who been carrying the book with him knowing Smith to be a musician interested in old books of songs and poems, and thinking he might bump into her as she walked the country roads in Dumfriesshire.

Each of these songs, and the others in the collection, show Smith’s thoughtful taste for melody and lyric, and her crystal soprano which well suits the stories and arrangements she chooses. Jamie McClennan produced the album, setting Smith’s voice gracefully in spare backing which includes his own guitar work, fiddle from Stuart Duncan, bass from Duncan Lyall, and percussion and drums from Signy Jakobsdottir.

photographs are from the CD release concert for Traiveller’s
at Celtic Connections in Glasgow. they were made with the kind permission of the festival and the artist and are copyrighted. thank you for respecting this.

here is a short film of Emily speaking about the making of the album

you may also wish to see

Music Road: Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan, and Robert Burns
Music Road: Song for the weekend: Emily Smith: Glory Bound

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Anjuli said...

I love her creative choices for the sources of her songs and melody of each of her songs. I loved the tidbit about the shepherd who carried around the book of poems knowing he would bump into her and pass it along.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Susan Johnston said...

Always fun to see and hear musicians discussing their creative inspirations. Her speaking voice has a melodic, lilting quality to it, too!

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

I read that some American musicians (bluegrass? hillbilly?) had brought their music from abroad, from Scotland. It was interesting to listen to Emily's songs and detect the same origins.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Jane Boursaw said...

Eel broth! I knew there was a reason I don't like seafood. I love the stories behind the songs and musicians you write about, Kerry.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous merr said...

You have such an interesting collection of artists here!

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Alisa Bowman said...

Unlike Jane, I love eels. They are actually the tastiest of the sea. But I don't eat meat anymore...

At any rate, yet another great post.

4:39 PM  
Blogger MyKidsEatSquid said...

She sounds like quite an artist, thanks for featuring her here.

6:19 PM  

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