Archie Fisher

A Silent Song

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A Silent Song Review

by Timothy Monger

A true folk legend in his native Scotland, Archie Fisher's impact on the U.S. folk scene has been minimal, though many fans will know prominent songs of his claimed by other acts, particularly "The Final Trawl" and "The Witch of the Westmoreland" as recorded by the Tannahill Weavers and Stan Rogers, among others. He's been part of ensembles and duos and worked as a lead guitarist and producer for artists like Tom Paxton, Silly Wizard, and Tommy Makem & Liam Clancy, but it's his solo albums, rare as they are, that reveal his quiet mastery. Arriving in late 2015, A Silent Song is Fisher's seventh proper solo album and third for American folk label Red House Records. At 75 years old, he still picks the guitar with the nimble grace that has made him a contemporary of other acclaimed U.K. folk six-stringers like John Renbourn and Martin Carthy. His way with traditional material remains confident and crafty on tracks like "Lord of the May" and the William Douglas poem "Bonnie Annie Laurie," and his rich, aged baritone lends the songs a poignant autumnal tone. A mix of new and old originals with a handful of well-selected covers and traditional tunes, the album's production is appropriately spare with occasional cello, whistle, and vocal accompaniment decorating a few of the songs. A Silent Song is another understated, late-career highlight from one of U.K. folk's great treasures.

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