Flight, plight, refuge, and rest

Laws of Motion Karine Polwart

Scottish Refugee Council Ambassador Alison Phipps gives her review of the new album ‘Laws of Motion’.

This month BBC folk singer of the year Karine Polwart launched her latest album, Laws of Motion, crafted in an expansive spirit of collaboration with her trusty trio of Steven Polwart and Inge Thomson, and embracing many others.

At its heart is flight, plight, refuge, and rest, which is no surprise given the times we live in.

Karine Polwart is a long-time supporter of Scottish Refugee Council. Her work bears the deep theme of refuge and does not limit this to a particular group but looks again and again at how we sustain cooperation. Karine’s songs rail against the money-boys, the war-mongers, and the freedom-snatchers.  hey defy the meanness we see and hear daily.

The title track of her latest album has an angered energy to it - the kind that comes when sacred laws are broken: 

‘Strike that rod

Build that wall

Defy the laws of motion

But the radius of every blast

And the anchor line of love and life

And the promise of another chance

Are wider, deeper, stronger than the ocean.’

The 45th President of the U.S.A and his Scottish ancestry come in for the same angered truth-telling in ‘I burn but I am not consumed’. The laws of motion endure, despite the walls and travel bans. Love is the anchor line. The granite rocks and tides are watching and have seen the madness of violence and greed before. They know how it ends. Always in tears.

And then there is the song, Suitcase, written with Martin Green on the Kinder Transport. ‘And he still holds his father’s hand' is repeated again and again like an incantation or spell. In it and under it, in the absence of that hand to hold, are all the men, women and children who cannot hold each other’s hands, but who are held and separated in detention camps from the southern states of the U.S. to Manus and Nauru to the slave camps of Libya, the dire straits of Greece and Lampadusa, and in our own Dungavel.

In my ears, as I cradle a new born child, is the song The Robin. It is a lullaby of grace and gravity, made of the very laws of motion the album embraces. ‘Have not a heavy heart’ urges a mother’s voice. It’s a song to rest in, and the child in my arms sleeps. Her mother and her father sought refuge here. For years they were cut off from their own parents by the walls of paperwork and proof. Their own mothers and fathers unable to visit, such are the walls built to frustrate the laws of motion by our Home Office, with its cruel family visit-visa refusals stacking up in piles, for all but the very very rich.

‘Laws of Motion’ is a beautiful album. It is made of the motions and emotions of our time. It’s a counterpoint to hopelessness, full of faith in nature.

Thank you Karine for all your support of the Scottish Refugee Council and those who seek shelter from all forms of violence.

You can find out the Trio’s tour dates and buy a copy of the album on Karine’s website: www.karinepolwart.com/news

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