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SALTFISHFORTY - Goose Music Cellar Records CRSFF0103

Behind this unusual name lurks a duo from Orkney. Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty have been playing together in various line-ups for decades, and it shows, but this is their first commercial recording. Subtitled "traditional and original music from Orkney", Goose Music is feisty fiddle and gutsy guitar with that swing so typical of Scotland's northern isles, and a strong blues flavour on the vocals. Most of the tunes and songs are their own compositions, and their style owes as much to American folk music as to Celtic.

From the off, Montgomery and Cromarty are completely in control. Every note is in place, every word is clear, every touch is totally professional. At the same time, they're clearly having enormous fun with this music and it's impossible not to be carried along by their energy and enthusiasm. The opening Karaoke Carol introduces Brian's raw earthy voice, perfect for his modern ballads and blues: he sings us seven of his songs here, powerful numbers all, in a style somewhere between Leadbelly and Dylan. On Red Diesel Reels Douglas serves up a trio of original tunes from syncopated country to straight-ahead reels, each one more toe-tapping. Brian's aching Song For Ali is followed by the first of two fabulous slow airs: both Tune For Ali and Watersound Shore are world class melodies beautifully played.

And so it continues, with a mix of trad and blues, sweet tunes and bitter songs. Saltfishforty rock it up a bit whenever they get an excuse, and what better excuse is there than Highland Park whisky? Brian is at his best on the Djangoesque Tabasco Twist, a humorous Hot Club romp, and Tongadale Stroganoff is a rock'n'rollercoaster with Douglas pulling out all the stops. Goose Music is a class act from start to finish.

Alex Monaghan