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ELINOR EVANS - Kaleidoscope 

ELINOR EVANS - Kaleidoscope 
Private Label EEM01

I wasn't sure what to expect from this CD. Billed as harp and fiddle from Scotland and Wales, it delivers much more than that, and has been a delight to listen to. Edinburgh harpist Elinor and her fiddling friend Sally Simpson play about a dozen examples of Elinor's own material, plus a handful of other people's compositions, modern and traditional. These young musicians are backed at times by Charlie Stewart on bass, but in the main this is harp and fiddle music pure and undiluted.

Kaleidoscope is not flawless. There are a few points where the stress of making a first album is audible as a momentary lapse of rhythm or an imperfect fingering, but the overall impression is of excellent musicianship and most enjoyable tunes. The opening pairing of Tilly's Dance with Niall Kenny's Trip To Pakistan shows a taste for the modern and experimental side of Scottish music, while Evans' pieces The Sleeping Child and Herding The Sheep fit straight into the clarsach tradition of airs and jigs.

Kwela Ceilidh is a South African style composition by Tim Potts, recorded by harpist Jenny Crook some years ago now. Elinor makes it into a fine solo performance and follows it up with a composition for her Welsh mother. A pair of Irish jigs completes the range of influences here, The Price Of A Pig and Brendan Ring's popular Lisnagun Jig, written before Brendan came out as a harpist too. Sally Simpson's fiddle really brings this jaunty set to life and the fiddle drives several other tracks, as well as providing harmonies on many of the harp-led pieces here. I particularly like the interplay of fiddle and harp on the Sunrise medley and on Herding The Sheep which achieves an antique sound akin to Song Of The Chanter or Cutting Bracken. Evans finishes with another harp solo, a spot of Bedging - you don't want to know, just enjoy the music! 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 107 of The Living Tradition magazine.