Album Review: Karine Polwart – Laws of Motion

Karine Polwart has long been one of the most powerful and mesmerising singer-songwriters of our time. With an extensive back-catalogue to her name she has been producing a steady stream of albums for years now with her monumental last album having been just one year ago. Her latest project is Laws of Motion, a sweet and sentimental album that weaves a rich and poetic story as it gradually unfolds.

As a performer Polwart is one of the most striking and fascinating artists with a myriad of talents at her disposal – and each and every one of them is brought to life in this inspirational album. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Polwart’s work is her crystalline vocals which is easily one of the most hypnotic and enrapturing within folk. Her sweet, golden vocals seem to splash out like paint across a canvas – as her soulful melodies trickle through your mind you are simply lulled as if entering a dream. Polwart’s passionate and evocative vocals can be split into two different factions too – the first is her astounding singing and the second is her simple but intense speeches. Songs like the title Laws of Motion are less of a song than they are poetry in motion that happens to be set to a daring soundscape. With her soft Scottish lilt and powerfully earnest voice talking over her tender tracks you find yourself stopped mid footstep. The world that Polwart draws you in to is something that sits somewhere outside of the realm of time. If you aren’t careful you might find yourself so enraptured that you need to remember to even breathe.

The power that Polwart commands in both stage and studio presence isn’t simply born from her charming and delicate vocals though, but from the words that she produces with them. Polwart is a natural-born storyteller and the tales that she stitches together in Laws of Motion are evocative sentiments of past, present and future. She carefully touches on the likes of global warming, politics and the environment. Never one to shy away from a difficult subject, Polwart is able to use her honeyed lullaby voice to soften the edges on otherwise jagged topics and make them more palatable by shedding a tender and sombre light on them. Enveloping herself in a cloak of sound that seems to come from the air itself Polwart is constantly surrounded by some of the most grandiose and yet quietly understated music of the year. Dextrous fingers flit over strings while discontented drumbeats ebb away in the background. Everything sounds simple and yet complex, a contemporary blend of folk that flows as naturally as the wind, constantly gathering speed and exuding a raw and brutal power from such a small and gentle song.

Laws of Motion is frankly a perfect album that brings together Polwart’s poetic verse with her charmed and mesmerising music. It is without a doubt one of the most indescribably beautiful albums of 2018 and no words can truly pay it justice. If you are to buy one last album this year then it should be Laws of Motion.

Pre Order Laws of Motion


17 October LONDON Cadogan Hall
18 October PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
19 October PONTARDAWE Arts Centre
20 October MANCHESTER Royal Northern College Of Music
21 October EXETER Phoenix
22 October BRIGHTON Komedia
23 October CAMBRIDGE Junction
24 October LEEDS City Varieties
31 October SHREWSBURY Walker Theatre
1 November BRISTOL St Georges
2 November BIRMINGHAM Town Hall
3 November KENDALL Brewery Arts Centre
4 November GATESHEAD Sage

Tickets via my and 

Review by Joe Knipe

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