Album Review: Karine Polwart – A Pocket of Wind Resistance

Karine Polwart is perhaps one of the most prominent musical figures to have emerged from Scotland. The multi-award winning performer has a charming and eloquent persona that has seen her work across a variety of mediums as a singer, songwriter, performer, poet and essayist. Most recently she took to the stage with Wind Resistance, a monstrously acclaimed theatrical performance that garnered her a shortlisting for the ‘Scottish Oscars’. Wind Resistance formed a collective performance of sound, song, poetry, myth and memoirs to bring to life a deep and resonant examination of life, love, midwifery and loss.

The astounding critical acclaim for this performance which Polwart wrote, directed and performed in was so rapturous that it birthed the concept of A Pocket of Wind Resistance. Working alongside acclaimed sound designer Pippa Murphy, Polwart carefully crafted this powerful abridged version of her theatrical masterpiece. As the story whirs to life and Polwart’s voice chimes to life for the first time you realise that this tale simply could suit no other. Her soft, elegant and honeyed voice is as soothing and invigorating as the fountain of youth while her soft Scottish lilt drifts across you like a dream, spreading her stories out before you like ink through water.

Listen to the lead track, ‘Labouring and Resting’​

A Pocket of Wind Resistance is peppered with fragments of dialogue that play out somewhere between a memoir and story that gradually flesh out Polwart’s songs and tug your heart closer and closer to her powerful characters Will and Roberta. These brief snippets of lore and essays rear their head throughout the songs and paint an ever broadening picture that seems to span time itself. These tales are carefully surrounded by a stunning and deeply emotional collection of melodies that at their loudest feel no more assertive than a heartbeat. This gentle musical attribute places focus on Polwart’s lyrics which are positively steeped in emotion. The result is a collective tale that has true power and emotion behind it. It can soothe you but it can also bring you to tears as you are sent spiralling across the moors, hand in hand with Polwart.

It is truly difficult to accurately describe the full power and atmosphere that is borne from A Pocket of Wind Resistance. It’s a collection that is packed with a series of tender and passionate scores that are complimented throughout by the soft sounds of nature. The gentle beat of a swallows wing or the reassuring noise of a migratory flock of geese nestle themselves carefully within her songs, this vibrancy and fragility of life echoing her every word. Nature and science walk hand in hand in her tales as she doesn’t simply bring personal elements to life but historical accounts of elixirs and the merge to modern medicine. These juxtapositions highlight the difference in our tales and the tales we are hearing, the frailty of life weakened somewhat further by the lack of modern medicine. We feel every blow and wince and weep as A Pocket of Wind Resistance immerses us deeper and deeper until you’re so heavily invested in her every word that you can scarcely bring yourself to breath for fear you might miss something.

Deep, passionate and powerful, this tender adaptation of Polwart’s phenomenal success is a truly mesmerising experience. Indescribably beautiful and soulful, it carefully plucks at your heartstrings with a tender caress whilst simultaneously providing you a quiet solitude from the rush of modern life as well as a gratitude for all the perks that come with it.

Following a run of shows through October, Polwart will be performing A Pocket Of Wind Resistance as part of a residency at The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh between November 3-11, 2017.

Tour Dates

October 10, 2017 | Belfast International Festival, The Mac, Belfast
October 11, 2017 | Belfast International Festival, The Mac, Belfast
October 12, 2017 | Dublin Theatre Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dublin
October 13, 2017 | Dublin Theatre Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dublin
October 14, 2017 | (Matinee) – Dublin Theatre Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dublin
October 14, 2017 | Dublin Theatre Festival, Pavilion Theatre, Dublin

November 3, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 4, 2017 | (Matinee) – Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 4, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 7, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 8, 2017 | (Matinee) – Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 8, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 9, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 10, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 11, 2017 | (Matinee) – Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
November 11, 2017 | Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburg​h​

Review by Joe Knipe

Pin It on Pinterest