Shauna Burns – Scarborough Fair


Shauna Burns – Scarborough Fair 


Shauna Burns’ latest single release, “Scarborough Fair”, finds her revisiting a folk chestnut with more than satisfying results. This song likely occupies the same lofty perches of other folk standards like “Barbara Allen”, “House Carpenter”, et al, and has likely been documented in as many permutations if not more, but Burns’ vision for the song is uniquely her own while still showing true fidelity to its origins. It’s the mark of a truly gifted performer when such storied histories, like this song has, are so easily circumvented when a performer has the style and artistry Burns clearly possesses. She’s attracted a large following not just because of her considerable skills, however, but also because she understands how to communicate both musically and vocally with her chosen audience. There are few songs in her twelve year career that embody that more than her cover of “Scarborough Fair”.  

This is a song of ageless, deceptively simple beauty. Playing this melody just right and imbuing it with generous feeling requires more than rudimentary musical skills; instead, this is a song that truly sounds only as deep as the experience a performer brings to it. Shauna Burns offers up one of the most compelling interpretations of this timeless folk classic that you’ll ever hear and does so by embracing its strengths and bringing some of her own to the table. Her voice definitely has ethereal qualities, but it isn’t so delicate that it can’t harbor gravitas and a depth of feeling. Her emotive skills come through quite clearly during this performance and one need only hear how rarely she attacks the lyrics in the same way from line to line to understand how she is a performer attentive to the song’s needs and able to meet each one. 

The musical arrangement is relatively spartan and rightfully so. There’s piano, a light dollop of post production work laid over things, low key guitar, and Burns’ voice. The listener needs no more than that. This decision forces Burns’ audience to key in on the song’s most crucial aspects and spares them distractions from any unnecessary bells and whistles. She’s confident in the material and her ability to sell it to listeners and this is an assurance born out of belief in her own musical vision and over a decade’s worth of experience writing and recording albums. Shauna Burns has maintained a consistently high level of quality from her first release in 2005 and, in recent years, has seemingly grown even more powerful as a singer and songwriter as she refines her vision in the second half of her career and deepens as a person. We hear that growth process ongoing in “Scarborough Fair” and there’s little reason to wonder, while listening, why she’s one of the most respected artists working in the indie scene today. She works by her own rules, follows her Muse wherever she might lead, and those intelligent enough to follow along are duly rewarded.  


Lance Wright