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This album title is deadly earnest: two top musicians get together with no idea what they will play, no previous discussion, and just let the music come. In some ways Nae Plans is like an old-style field recording, but with modern studio equipment and without kettles boiling or varmints being exterminated in the background. Loch Ness fiddler Adam Sutherland is well known as a composer and innovator, but here he sticks mainly to well-known material, or his accompanist might have struggled to produce such a polished performance. The Napier brothers have been particularly inventive and collaborative of late - crowd funding projects, songwriting partnerships, whistle duets and more - so I'm not sure if Hamish has been driven to this project by hard times, or if the creative juices are just bubbling over in this mild winter we're having. Either way, Nae Plans is a great idea and this pair certainly pull it off in style.

Starting with some gentle waltzes by Phil Cunningham and Pat Shaw, Adam's fiddle is quickly into swing variations while Hamish warms up the ivories with a few jazzy riffs of his own. A' The Airts, the first of two songs, continues the gentle mood and indeed the following 3/4 Marni Swanson Of The Grey Coast is still in that slow relaxed groove until Sutherland ignites some fiery improvisations half way through this ten minute monster medley, introducing a couple of contemporary jigs which will blow the cobwebs - and the listeners - away. Then it's back to Phil & Aly territory, Belle-Mère's Waltz given a bit of a backbeat by Hamish before the fiddler waves his wand. A Swedish or Norwegian polska, a couple of authentic false starts, more Cunningham magic and the Grant slow air Miss Jameson's Favourite bring us to Louise, a modern country piano ballad sung by Hamish with Adam playing back-up fiddle.

So far it's all been played fairly safe, but the boys remove the safety net for their penultimate set, a Napier composition, with creaking cat-gut and ballistic bowing, unique and impressive. The wind-down starts with a masterly version of The Sweetness Of Mary (Phil & Aly territory again), The Famous Bridge in 12/8 and finally Molly Rankin's Reel by the late John Morris of that ilk. Remember, this is only Volume 1. The second half is still to be released, but this wee project is already off to a flying start, with live concerts, CD sell-outs (download still available) and a raffle that the folks in The Old Hairdressers are still trying to forget. There's a lot more information at and you can download the album at Watch out for the next impromptu instalment of Nae Plans: it's bound to be entertaining, but that's as much as I'd want to predict!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.