Karine Polwart

Karine Polwart

Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, Fri 11 Apr; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 13 Apr; Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, Wed 16 Apr; Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Thu 17 Apr; Tollbooth, Stirling, Fri 18 Apr


The life of a self-employed musician can be complicated at the best of times. Juggling long tours with writing and recording is not always a lifestyle conducive to parenthood, but when Karine Polwart fell pregnant at the end of 2006 she was determined to strike a balance between family life and work.

To the outsider it has been a triumph: this month she tours the two albums she has released since November last year, just months after she gave birth to her first child. The first record, The Fairest Floo’er, is a collection of traditional ballads; in March she followed that with This Earthly Spell, an album of original material. But it wasn’t as easy as Polwart made it seem.

‘When I got pregnant towards the end of 2006 I had a wee bit of a panic about how I would survive as a self-employed musician who was going to be out of action for a while,’ she says. ‘I thought, “Right, I’ll make an album and bring it out before the baby’s born and everything will be fine” but it ended up that one album morphed into two.’

Initially, Polwart had planned to bring one album out before the birth and one after, but the vagaries of pregnancy played havoc with her schedule.

‘Those were the ideas of somebody who has never had a baby before,’ she laughs. ‘I also tried to go on tour with a five month old baby last year and quickly realised that wasn’t as easy as it seems either.’

As might be expected, impending motherhood was a source of inspiration.

‘A couple of the songs were recorded after Arlo came along but on both albums there a three songs from the point of view of mothers,’ she says. ‘It was clearly chewing away at my brain. A few of the songs took on a whole different meaning once I had a son of my own.’

Polwart wrote ‘Rivers Run’ as a tribute to her son. He is, she says, a big fan of her music having imbibed it in the womb. She was singing until a few weeks before he was born.

‘I thought being pregnant might hinder my voice, what with the strain to the diaphragm, but if anything it made me concentrate more and sing even better,’ she says. ‘Singing makes you feel good anyway, so I felt fantastic.’

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