Thinking about red and white poppies, about how precious and fleeting life is, and how sometimes, in the stories we tell ourselves about a cause, we lose sight of the human cost.

I’ve combined two versions of this song – written by two women who lived in close proximity in space and time. One voice is concerned with a more philosophical, ‘bigger’ picture, one is concerned with the people and community involved in fighting, or the loss of younger generations, and its aftermath. I’ve interwoven the two. The forest in this song is generally thought to be the Ettrick forest (by Yarrow) so I included Ettrick in my version.

Traditional song arranged by Lori Watson, Duncan Lyall and Steven Byrnes

Lyrics from Alison Rutherford (1712-1794) and Jean Elliot (1727-1805)

Vocal by Lori Watson
Piano by Duncan Lyall
Guitar by Steven Byrnes
Recorded and mixed by Duncan Lyall at Red Deer Studios
Mastered by Iain Hutchison at Glo Worm Studios
Poppy by Jennifer Austin


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.