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MATT SEATTLE BAND - Reivers of the Heart

MATT SEATTLE BAND - Reivers of the Heart
Dragonfly Music  DFMCD0102

Borders are strange things, really.  It’s the easiest job in the world simply to draw a line on a map and declare it a border, but how many problems can be caused by that seemingly straightforward task?  Historically, the reivers of the Scottish / English borderland had a great way of coping with this by just forgetting that there was such a line on the map, and carrying on doing their own thing regardless.  It’s a bit like that with music from the area, in that it can draw freely on sounds which are essentially Scottish or English in themselves, and fuse them into something that is much greater than the sum of its parts, yet is quintessentially of its area.  Add to that the relative isolation of the Borders, and it just seems natural that traditions are long-kept by locals.

This doesn’t mean that new ideas are not welcome, as this release clearly shows. By combining the eponymous Matt Seattle, Border pipes and mandolin; Donald Knox, guitar and mandolin; Lewis Powell-Reid, accordion, mandolin and bouzouki; with Frazer Watson’s middle eastern percussion on darabuka, frame drums and tapan, this group produces an overall effect which is earthy, vibrant and original, yet still subtle, complex and hugely respectful of the traditions from which it draws.  Often, when a musical fusion is attempted, the results can be a bit unsatisfying, as the ingredients don’t actually sit that well together, but here that balancing of ideas (and instruments) is wonderful.  The tonality is complex at times, and always interesting, engaging and exciting, with each new hearing bringing out new subtleties.  Highly recommended.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.