The fifth monthly Yarrow Acoustic Sessions single is a beautiful version of the traditional song shared with me by Anne Neilson. Anne’s interpretation of traditional song, the way she develops a personal connection with songs, stories, people, perspectives has been an important inspiration to me over the years.

Birth, death, vulnerability, violence, deep sorrow, bitterness: a newborn baby is murdered and buried, the mother is tormented. This is a Scottish variant of The Cruel Mother (Child 20). But we as humanity are responsible for this. There are several versions of the story; some published in broadsides in the late 1700s and more taking place today. The chorus lines gain weight through each verse of the song as the tragedy of the child and the mother’s situation sink in. The melody is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard.

This arrangement was created with Fiona Black. If you haven’t already, you can hear her playing with the Outside Track and various other collaborations. She writes brilliant tunes too.
Traditional arr. Lori Watson and Fiona Black

Vocal and fiddle by Lori Watson
Accordion by Fiona Black
Recorded and mixed by Duncan Lyall at Red Deer
Mastered by Iain Hutchison at Glo Worm Studios


Dark and brooding, windswept, contoured, joyful, turbulent, sparse: Yarrow is an evolving collection of traditional and original songs and new music by Lori Watson.

Yarrow is an exploration of human connections to nature and one another, through time, inspired by the Yarrow valley in the Scottish Borders. The project centres on the development of a contemporary album that carries these themes beyond conventional folk sounds, and as part of the exploration a series of acoustic singles will be released (Yarrow Acoustic Sessions).

“With Yarrow taking place over a couple of years, I can give more time and space to allowing the music to develop towards the final album and share the experience as we go in the monthly acoustic singles: so yeah there’s an element of risk in that I don’t quite know what’s going to evolve.”

“I’m interested in unfinished works and fragments, whether traditional or original. They’ve always been inspiring starting points for me. In Yarrow I’m creating and interpreting fragments; crafting something that expresses the connections between us and our environment spanning hundreds of years: and then it’s filtered by what inspires and resonates with me right now.”

Scots Singer of the Year, Lori Watson is a fiddle player, singer and composer. She has drawn on the rich tradition of the Scottish Borders throughout her artistic life, including experimental works and a PhD thesis and creative folio exploring innovation and contemporary traditional music practice.

A folk musician with considerable pedigree, Lori is touring and recording with Boreas, Iain Morrison and a range of other solo and collaborative projects, and has six albums in circulation, including two critically acclaimed albums with her trio Rule of Three. But this is Lori’s first significant song work and she aims to let us in on the process as well as the finished products.