KARINE Polwart is a woman with a lot to say.
And she’s said it – or sung it – pretty well. The folk musician first raised eyebrows in 2005, when she won the BBC Folk Awards for Best Album with her politically and socially fuelled Faultines, which covered topics from social injustice to sex trafficking. Her second solo album, Scribbled in Chalk, was also a critical success. But Polwart’s not easy about her full-time role as an artist. Before committing to music, the young singer songwriter worked in social services and, briefly, as a teacher. “I’m the sort of person who is fuelled by wanting to help people and sometimes I think ‘does the world really need another songwriter?’ – it seems like a luxury in this day and age.”
But her existential crisis is partly healed by the fact that her fan base, which, she believes, share her views, can at least relate to her songs. “On a good day I have to remember that at least in song you have the opportunity to make an emotional connection with people. You have to remember the things you believe in and most of the people who come to my gigs probably agree with what I’m saying.”
And even in these austere times of savage cuts to the arts, Polwart believes the value of a short song is priceless: “Songs are the most accessible art form. Not everyone can go and see an orchestra or visit an art gallery but a short song can be heard almost anywhere now. And every song is relevant to someone at some point in their lives.”
Already some of Polwart’s songs have become folk classics, surviving adaptations and covers by fans: “I’ve had people contact me and tell me they had their family sing a song at a wedding or a funeral. Now that means a lot.”
lPolwart brings her folk repertoire to Plug, Matilda Street, on Friday, April 8.